Tag Archives: Joe Hockey

View From The Couch – 31/Jul/2014

Even More Things Wrong With Work-For-The-Dole

When you think about it, all the things described as ‘work’ under work for the dole is…work that other people would ordinarily get paid to do. Heck, some un-ordinary people like people deemed guilty of offenses and hence must do community service might be working right along with the work-for-the-dole crowd.

”There’s nothing that would prevent activities being conducted by both community-service orders and work for the dole at the same premises,” the spokeswoman said.

”But work for the dole is preserved for people on income support.”

But Ashley Geelan, 36, says when he heard about the government’s proposed work-for-the-dole activities they sounded exactly the same as activities he once had to do to complete court-ordered community service for a number of traffic offences.

Mr Geelan, from Victoria, said after he completed court-ordered community service in 2009, he joined a work-for-the-dole program but he wound up back at the same place, doing the same thing.
He also said he worked on three separate projects – sweeping the car park at Reservoir railway station, working at a Salvation Army store in Doncaster, and helping repair the Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House – that had a mix of work-for-the-dole workers and those doing court-ordered community work.

This would suggest that the Abbott government sees the unemployed as criminals. it’s one thing to champion the protestant work ethic but it’s entirely another to stigmatise the unemployed.

The crappy thing is that work-for-the-dole projects would go to the non-profits sector meaning charities, who get a tax exemption. So it’s essentially creating slave labour for the charity sector i.e. giving away free labour to people who already get a sizable break from the government. If this is giving back to the community, I say on behalf of the community, just let them keep whatever it is that they got.

But here’s the fundamental point that the Abbott government is ignoring: If you pay somebody to do ‘work’, then that’s called ’employment’. Like it or lump it, the moment the work-for-the-dole takes an unemployed person and makes them work for their dole money, the government has expanded its payroll, except it’s doing it of the books. If even a fifth of the 830,000 or so unemployed people were sent out to do community service style projects, it might be the biggest expansion in the Federal government payroll since the time the Howard government tried the work-for-the-dole scheme.

Worse still, these unofficial-workers would not have union protection or rights as properly employed workers. They’ll effectively be working for much less money than an equivalent person in the private sector would be earning for doing similar work. Furthermore it’s arguable that it may put some low level cleaning companies out of business should the scheme reach 100,000 workers. It’s up to the government to decide where it sends workers but work for the dole workers would need to be protected with professional indemnity and public liability insurance as well as Work Cover, so you have to ask just who is footing that bill, and if those calculations have been made. Knowing this government, probably not.

It’s amazing that a government that allegedly champions the cause of small business could be so inept at understanding how these things work.

The Land of The Un-Free

Forget the MH17 Ukrainian brouhaha, here’s a bit of eye-catching news.

As part of the review, it is understood that Mr Forrest has recommended that the government radically expand the current income management system.

This would see everyone on a working age payment – which includes those on Newstart and the Disability Support Pension – have 100 per cent of their payments managed by the government, preventing them from using payments to buy items such as alcohol and cigarettes.

The recommendation follows the interim report of the McClure welfare review, which last month said that ”consideration should be given to incorporating income management” in services for job seekers ”who need to stabilise their circumstances”.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government had no current plans to expand the income management system to all welfare recipients, pointing out that Mr Forrest’s report was only a report to the government.

Aha. So Andrew Twiggy Forrest is moonlighting again as the resident right wing nut job adviser saying the money the government pays to you is still not your money. I’ve pointed out that the people who complain about the government “spending our money” are misguided in thinking they have a bigger say in how money with which they have parted, than the government that taxed them. Similarly, if the said money takes that money and gives it to a disabled person or a homeless person or simply an unemployed person, it’s really not their business to say how that money should be spent. It sounds blood simple doesn’t it? Except here’s Twiggy saying that people should have no control over that money.

This is the kind of nutbar the government pays to give them advice. It kind of shows you how desperately out of ideas this government is already.

Corporate Shills And All Its Ills

The Abbott government also wants to water down laws on company directors and their liabilities.

The group representing Australia’s most powerful boardrooms will on Thursday release a proposal to water down the Corporations Act and ASIC Act, saying corporate directors need a ”safe harbour” from personal liability.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors has been lobbying Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, benched Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos and Attorney-General George Brandis for a new ”honest and reasonable director defence” to be inserted into existing laws designed to protect shareholders and consumers from boardroom negligence.

If adopted by the Coalition, the new defence would shield directors from prosecution where it cannot be proved they told a lie or failed to act with ”integrity and commitment”.
The new provision would apply to directors facing alleged contraventions, including offences around financial reporting, continuous disclosure rules and misleading or deceptive conduct.

It’s as if every idiot vested interest group has come forth with their incredibly unwanted and deeply undesirable ideological hobby horses. Of course these people would say that they don’t like personal liability. The whole point is so that they won’t jeopardise other people’s lives. It’s not surprising this government would even lend out a forum for such views. if anything there should be ways to get at company directors who use shell-games with paper companies to shield their personal stake from creditors. What we need is a way to get at those directors and make them personally accountable for the damage they wreak.

Just as the article says I’ve never seen anybody treated unfairly as a result of personal liability. The vast majority of instances  where directors’ liabilities have been an issue that I’ve seen, have resulted in directors walking away scot-free without really losing anything, That, seems far more unfair than anything that’s actually written into law covering this point.

There You Go Using That Word Mandate Again!

Tony Abbott is still, to this day, one of the least popular Prime Ministers in the short history of Australian Prime Ministers. What makes him even less popular is his insistence that he won some kind of mandate in the last Federal election 10 months ago. His personal popularity that languishes in the low 30s says ‘no’ to this fanciful notion.

Yesterday Clive Palmer challenged Tony Abbott to go for a double dissolution. Somehow we kind of expected things to work out this way. Today, Tony Abbott served back his own take  right at Clive Palmer, and so he used that word ‘mandate’. It’s hard to argue you have a mandate when you are so unpopular, heading up a government that produced the leas popular budget since polling began. I mean, yeah, sure, whatever you say Tony. It seems to me this whole Abbott government might disintegrate if any more scandals come to light. Hardly a government that could claim having a mandate.

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What The MP Writes To Us

Craig Laundy, Federal Member Of Reid

The Federal budget has been such bad politics, the MPs have been asked to go stump for it in their electorates, trying to explain the extraordinary political stink bomb let off by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.

Laundy LetterIn the cover letter, Laundy insists that there is a budget emergency. He cites in his letter that Australia’s debt – Federal government debt – is 200billion for which we are putting ourselves further into debt at the rate of 1billion more to pay the interest rate on the 200billion. Just looking at the numbers, it seems he is saying we’re paying 12billion a year on 200billion which is about 6%.p.a. This can’t possibly be right because the RBA has its rate at 2.5% – the lowest in the history of the RBA – so even the numbers don’t stack up in first glance. Australian Treasury Two-year note yield rose significantly today and was 3.74% today. So either Laundy can’t do the maths or the people who ghost wrote the letter for him can’t do maths.

It’s almost as if these people want to cut the budget because not only do they know they’re no good at maths, but also that they want to do away with complicated compound interest rate calculations from budgets forever, and that’s the only reason a surplus looks so-o-o-o attractive to these munchkins. It’s not for their mendacity (which they are mendacious, but we’ll let that slide for a moment) but their willful stupidity and fearlessness in admitting it, that they even mount their position in this way.

Debt – bad. Surplus – good. D’uh. Complicated compound interest calculations – bad. Surplus – good. D’uh and double D’uh. The worrying thing is that just because they insist it’s 6% doesn’t make it 6%.

And you worry about people who want to shortchange you 2.26% even in a hypothetical discussion. That’s a 60.43% inflation in the interest rate right  there. Leaving the total dodginess of the sums aside, economists have determined that running a budget surplus is going to be a 1% drag on the GDP growth, so the assumption that surpluses are good for economic growth is completely stupid.

Laundy then argues that the people who argue that there is no emergency are “engaging in political spin”. It’s a firm assertion, but most sensible people would see it the other way around – that it is Mr. Laundy and the Coalition who are busily “engaging in political spin” to somehow force-feed us the unpalatable budget they have concocted. After all, if it weren’t such a shitty budget, why would they have to come up with a super glossy A3 brochure as well as this cruddy letter?

The sentence which follows is even more strained:

What use is having the lowest mortgage in your street if you not only can’t afford the repayments, but have to ask the bank to borrow more money to pay the interest on your loan?

In a way, perhaps yes, it’s interesting they picked that as a metaphor. First of all, likening government debt to being underwater with a mortgage is deeply suspect. We’re not all working to pay off Parliament House – we’re paying taxes so the government can do things. That’s not a small difference. That’s a big difference. You worry about people who conflate their arguments – especially straight after they’ve tried to con you out of 60.43% of the interest rate return. After which he insists for the third time “be in no doubt this is a budget emergency and it is clearly unsustainable.”

I understand that the Abbott government is doing its best to overstate the dramatic need for cutbacks but coming up with stupid metaphors isn’t exactly persuasive. The letter says “something has to be done”. Well, even if that were true, the case certainly hasn’t been made that something should be what the Coalition is proposing in its budget.

Glossy But Crappy

Glossy Brochure Of Slogans

The chinless wonder with the gerbil charm in the bottom left is our local honorable Federal Member for Reid. Enough to make your knees weak with the fear that a rodent may be gaffer taped and inserted into one of your orifices by this man.

The Coalition never really sent out what their exact policies were, prior to the September election. They were going to stop the boats and repeal “the Mining Tax” and “the Carbon Tax”. They repeatedly told us there would be no cuts to health or education. So what does the glossy brochure tell us?

1 We’ve secured Australia’s borders

2. We’re fixing Labor’s debt and deficit mess

3. We’re laying down a strong foundation to grow the economy and create more jobs

Well. I. Never. Would’ve – in my wildest dreams – thought they would do such things. Not only did they not have policies worth writing about – they had handy slogans instead – they’ve lied about what they would do. They’ve raised taxes, cut health and education and they’ve gone bananas in trying to shut down science and technology development in this country, not to mention done their best to shut down agencies dealing with climate change. That bit was predictable.

What was not predictable was that they would then send out a glossy brochure that hurls even more slogans off the page.

The problem with democracy is that we are always held hostage by the lowest common denominator of intellect. The dumb-and-ignorant, amassed in numbers will always beat the individual thinkers with their puny one vote each. And thus sloganeering has replaced proper discussions of policy. It’s as it is with Gresham’s law where bad currency rids us of good currency, bad ideas have rid us of good ideas and bad thinkers have rid us of good thinkers. What’s remaining is the media spectacle that is the Abbott government and their flunky right wing nutjob media commentators. You never would have thought Australia would sink this low, but … it has. Let the gerbil-baiting begin!

 

 

 

 

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There’s Even More Not To Like

Future Brain Drain

Last night I went out to dinner with Walk-off HBP and his family and eventually the conversation turned to the politics of this budget. His daughter’s finishing up high school this year, so tertiary education and its cost became a hot topic for conversation. Fortunately (and I use this word loosely), Mrs. HBP is from Denmark, so up for consideration was the possibility that the younger HBP might be better off claiming her heritage and citizenship, and heading to Denmark where tertiary education is free. It occurred to me that there might be a lot of this sort of thing going on.

The logical ramification is that Australia might be about to witness  great brain drain in the not too distant future, as well as an acceleration of the aging population issues. Consider for the moment the number of people who could devise a way back to the countries of their heritage to get a less expensive tertiary education. Places like Ireland and Scandinavian countries are not the only places that offer up these option. Then think of the likelihoods they meet their spouses and setup families elsewhere on the planet and not Australia. It’s like Australia is willing to give up its younger, smarter population when in fact they’re the people that are going to be needed to support the aging baby Boomers and eventually Gen-X.

In the mean time our universities will be filled with stupid rich kids who will be there only because they can afford to be there, so this notion of more competitive universities seems like a pipedream on the part of the Coalition. Walk-off HBP thinks it’s more of a smokescreen to entrench privilege in such a way that only the Liberal voting types get to go to University.

I’ve already covered the problems of carrying a 100k student debt into a professional career – you’re worse off than not going to university and getting a tradie’s job. We may actually be looking at a future where the ranks of varsity graduate professionals will be much lower in quality than today. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think these rich types are going to enjoy going to doctors and lawyers pulled from the third best minds of their generation.

Nepotism As A Way Of Life

One of Tony Abbott’s daughters got a 60k scholarship. The people who gave her the scholarship claimed it was purely on merit. Another one of Tony Abbott’s daughters has a plum job working fro DFAT in Geneva. A lot of people have pointed out how unqualified she is for the job, but no, her boss is an old Liberal Party member who has told us that Tony Abbott’s daughter got the jobon her own merits.

In each instance the insistence on the merits of Abbott’s brood seems to stretch the definition of the word ‘merit’. It’ a really bad look when your government is about to make tertiary education more expensive to then have a daughter get a freebie. It’s a really bad look to have your daughter get a plum job in DFAT over other genuine candidates of actual merit, when your government is about to cut off 16,000 public sector jobs. Both instances speak volumes to the absence of character in his daughters, which, by extension reflect badly on the parents, who in this instance happens to be the Prime Minister. These are big favours being handed to his family.

When you consider that there is a Royal Commission into Julia Gillard’s conduct as an IR lawyer and claims of $7000 for renovations of her house coming from a union slush fund; and how Abbott himself hounded Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper relentlessly through digging up dirt; not to mention the fact that all it took was for a $3000 bottle of Grange Hermitage to bring down Barry O’Farrell, it seems abundantly obvious that Tony Abbott should quit. $60,000 worth of scholarship dollars and a plum job at DFAT seems far in excess of what normal people would consider a favour for a mate.

Really, Tony Abbott should quit on this alone.

But he won’t quit. Which means he’s an unabashed crook. now he’s saying he wants family kept out of it. I think it’s a bit much that a man who would go after Julia Gillard with a Royal Commission, and hounded Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper in the manner that he did, to want his family kept out of it by the media.

No, no, no Mr. Abbott, it’s much too late for that. You lowered the bar forcefully – you can try doing your limbo dance under it.

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Fools On The Hill

Day After Day…

I kid you not, everyday brings news of something so illogical and founded on imagined notions to make you wince, getting enacted into policy by this Federal government. If they’re not putting something into policy, they’re telling us how they think it ought to be.

Take this cretin here.

Another Angry Fat Man of the right-wing nutjob persuasion. Well fed and full of hate.

 

George Christensen, the LNP member for the Queensland electorate of Dawson, has sparked outrage on twitter after he posted a photo of an impoverished child and called for a reality check from Australians and their first world problems.
“Aussies should do a tour of Asia & live like locals to put these 1st world complaints re budget in perspective,” he wrote.

The tweet prompted an immediate backlash with one user tweeting “Translation: Aussie battlers should take a glimpse at LNP model for Australia’s future”.
Mr Christensen did not taken kindly to the criticism, and replied that Australians concerned about tough budget measures needed to realise how “minuscule” their complaints were on a global scale.

He followed up his original tweet with: “Try getting any serious form of welfare in Thailand or other SE Asian nations.”

Just look at that guy. Well fed and brimming with excess calories, he thinks Australians ought to be grateful they’re getting the budget from hell because the alternative is an impoverished Asian country. Forget for the moment that another wing of this mean-spirited government is busily sending asylum seekers to Cambodia a country which fits such a description.

What we can discern from this is that the Liberals and Nationals set a very low bar for themselves and their governing endeavors. It’s a government of people who want to invent their own facts, right from the top down. Both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey concocted a budget emergency and part of that plank was that produtivity was stagnating in Australia. The big surprise today is that productivity is actually rocketing upwards.

The good news is that labour is already performing. The counting of that is yet to catch up to the performance, but it is happening.

Well, I think it’s good news. Given the government’s narrative preferring doom and misery, maybe that isn’t good news for the current leadership – it doesn’t support their usual story of Labor’s labour reforms destroying the economy.

In other words, Hockeynomics can go take a hike. There are other things the Coalition government are doing that would make you shake your head. Especially the bits to do with climate change. They keep scrapping and sacking things to and people to do with dealing with Global Warming and here we sit in a record-breaking month in Sydney where we’ve had the most days above 20degrees on record. Global Warming is clearly going on in plain sight for all to see and the fools who run the country are busily trying to expunge it from reality by sacking and retrenching people. The effects of this is that this expertise we’ve been investing in will scatter to the globe. It’s a braindrain facilitated by a government of fools.

I lambast them daily and really, this makes no difference because so many idiots decided to vote this bunch in, so the only pleasure I can take from this is the Schadenfreude of saying, “told you so!”

Pleiades says he’s sickened by what Australia has become. It worries me that Australia voted in this mob. I keep thinking just where it was that things went wrong, but it’s hard to say. I used to think it was a tragedy that Tony Abbott got up over Joe Hockey and Malcolm Turnbull by one vote; except the way Joe Hockey has gone about this budget shows that he might not have been too different had he won that day and became opposition leader. We’d still be looking at this crazy budget and insane government; just differently nuanced through Joe Hockey’s boofy persona instead of Abbott’s lip-licking-lizard persona.

Had Julia Gillard not been in such a rush to pull down Kevin Rudd, or if Kevin Rudd had stuck to his guns over the ETS… Maybe it was the moment Rudd put too much stock in the outcome of the Copenhagen talks. But at lest he did what he thought was best and worked hard. Abbott essentially rocked up into the top job without really doing any coherent policy work.

These are exactly the kind of hypothetical questions that teachers of history warn us against. What we have are facts – and the facts are these: Australia voted in a grossly deficient, mostly unintelligent bunch into office simply because they hated the infighting of the ALP. The chief of the idiots is running this country like he has a huge mandate when in fact there’s no factual support for such a view. As a result this country is going to hell in a basket. It’s really not much fun.

 

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Everybody Hates This Budget

Everybody Except Ballerinas

Who decided that out of all the arts practitioners that ballerinas in particular were the most hard done by and could not be cut any more? Who’s daughter or niece is studying to be a ballerina? Didn’t they think we’d notice that everybody in the sciences, arts and manufacturing gets funding cuts but the ballerinas are going to get a special scholarship fund for their boarding needs? Has there been a bigger joke and probable cause for investigating a conflict of interest than this item in this year’s budget?

But no, there won’t be a federal equivalent of an ICAC, so we may never know. I sure hope the findings in the NSW ICAC about this North Sydney Forum brings down Joe Hockey. Screw him and the tutu and shoes he came dancing into town with.

How Do The Nats Cope?
It struck me that the budget would hurt the rural base of the national Party as much, if not more than people in urban areas. Consider youth unemployment is higher in rural areas, so these cuts to the dole and changes in arrangements would affect more rural families than city ones. Making tertiary education more expensive adds a burden on to families that have to send their university student children to cities to board and study. If at the same time the Federal government is pulling 80billion from healthcare and education from the states, then clearly they’re more likely to feel the pinch when the State governments cut health and education in far flung rural areas before they cut in urban areas.

Which ever way you dice this, this budget is not good for the bush at all, and even if they built all these roads, it’s the sort of spending that is one-and-done with nothing to follow up. There’s really nothing in it that helps the bush at all, and so you wonder what exactly keeps the Nationals in the fold with the Liberals except for an extreme kind of social conservatism. Even then you wonder how much the bush can take of this before they say, “bugger the principles, we’re not going along with this crap”; It may already be happening because the amount of support given to a rogue national party member like Bob Katter teaming up with mining magnate Clive Palmer suggests the rural vote is already looking away from the Coalition in search of a better choice

I spoke to Pleiades today who tells me people on the backbench on the government side are hopping mad at Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott is putting it on the MPs to go and sell this to their electorates, but the MPs weren’t consulted about any of these radical changes. If it’s not a fiasco, it sure is a looming disaster.

OMG, A Medical Research Fund?

It’s pretty clear the current Libs have attitudes that date back to when Galileo started moving the earth and Darwin conjured humanity from monkeys. The thing that has Pleaides incensed is that this mob have come to power and shut down the environmental agencies, cutback the CSIRO, and research areas an starved science of funding in the name of budget surplus. They say it’s about the budget surplus, but actually they just don’t like science for embarrassing the church. Pretty soon they’ll be ramming (un)’Intelligent Design’ into the classroom and wanting to support the church through public funds – in fact they’re already paying for chaplains to be in schools.

These people don’t really believe in science. Think about that for a moment. They don’t even have a minister for science. Their vision for the future revolves around building roads and presumably keeping driving fossil fuel vehicles as if the world does not change. Not only are they in denial about Climate Change, they’re in denial that anything changes at all. so how much credibility is there when the very same people who have taken an axe to science turn around and say they are going to have a medical research fund?

It immediately begs the question qui bono  – who benefits? It’s no conspiracy. It has got to be the pharmaceutical companies who have been lobbying the government to keep their entitlements under the current medical entitlements even if the Australian people lose theirs. Oh that, and maybe Joe Hockey doesn’t want to die of an obscure cancer.

It will be too late to reach for your torches and pitchforks when they start giving out textbooks with humans and dinosaurs cavorting together. You heard it from me right here.

Captive To Idiocy

I know name-calling doesn’t help but it’s worth calling things by their proper name: The Liberal Party in Australia has transformed itself into the Conservative party and are decidedly Tory in their bearings. Just as with their overseas conservative counterparts, there’s nothing terribly liberal about this Liberal Party at all. It’s no coincidence that Tony Abbott wanted to bring back Knights and Dames. However when it comes to economic policy the only textbook they had to go on was the austerity practiced by the UK Conservatives and the sort of belt tightening imposed on Greece.

Of course, austrity has not worked at all, and Greece saw its economy shrink to such an extent that it ended up owning more money as against their GDP. The experience in the UK has been such that they couldn’t run austerity program enough to sustain infrastructure so they only half implemented it and mostly talked about doing it. The very notion that austerity would lead the economy back to health is built on the simple assumption that if government debt is reduced to zero and goes to surplus, the economy would once again be free to make capital investments.

It’s a lie. It’s stupid. And quite frankly it’s so wrong and stupid, it’s evil and a danger to society. And yet that’s our federal government

The problem with our economy and what has hindered our recovery is that people have not been able to deleverage their private debt from their peak in 2007. That’s it. Even if the Australian government went back to zero debt, as long as Australian households are in debt up to their eyeballs and Australian industry is in debt up to their eyeballs, there won’t be any more big capital expenditures in the wake of the mining boom subsiding. That’s really it in a nutshell.

But the desire of industry is always to privatise profits and socialise losses so to this end they lobby  governments for special treatment. In the current government we have a bunch of idiots who want to do exactly as the lobbyists ask, believing this is the remedy to a problem that does not actually exist, when in fact it utterly fails to address the problems that do exist. And if that’s not captive to idiocy it’s hard to imagine a better example.

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Block Supply, Bill Shorten!

No, Really, We Mean It!

This is a pretty shitty budget brought down by the Coalition. No matter what the Coalition is claiming and  will continue to claim over the next little while, there’s no way this budget was what the Australian electorate voted for in September. Abbott clearly lied or changed his mind. In either case this budget has no legitimacy. Lots of people are unhappy with this thing.

The only thing that can be done to stop it dead in its tracks is to block supply – and then Governor General Peter Cosgrove can sack Abbott as Prime Minister.

Come on Bill Shorten, show some balls.

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The Schadenfreude Budget

Nothing To Delight In But Pain Of Others

This is going to be a mean budget. I was talking about it today with some people and they were saying yes, it’s going to hurt but that they hope it hurts other people too. Like Liberal voters who thought voting for Tony Abbott was such a good idea. If you’re a left-leaning voter, this budget promises to be a pile of misery heaped upon with fear-and-loathing sauce. The only sweetness will be the bitter-sweet Schadenfreude of seeing others suffer.

In my case, I’m hoping for a big scythe like the one carried by death to hack a swathe through Screen Australia, which may or may not according to leaked information, get rolled into one entity with the Australia Council. That would be cool to seethe perennial same people who always get the funding, go without for once. Screen Australia’s a bit of a bug bear because they keep funding the same people and they keep rewriting the rules so nobody else gets a look in for funding. In other words, it’s more a rort and a slush fund than a proper funding body these days so… heck Joe Hockey, cut away with impunity. I’d rather see it get the full-arse chop than a half-arsed trim. I really would enjoy those people “having to look for a job in the real world”. Screw them.

On a more general scale, you ave to think that Abbott and company are going to make the kinds of cuts that the ALP could not. This would be true, particularly in health and welfare. And while the rhetoric is that this targets the weakest in our society, I think we’ve all seen a few cases that have made us do a double-take. If you think about it, 6million people are on some kind of Centrelink payment. Then, Julia Gillard’s government added Family Tax Benefit B as a bribe to lather through the Carbon Price. It was classic ‘Keep it Greasy So It Goes Down Easy’. As a single person who got nada out of that deal because I have a job – even though I’m in the “low income bracket” according to the tax office – it sure wasn’t a break that was headed my way.  So, I wouldn’t miss Family Tax Benefit B disappearing. heck, cut away, I say.

Be that as it may, there are plenty of things that piss me off  that are mooted in this budget. The wholesale destruction of environmental agencies and science and technology funding seems beyond the pail. I’m just hoping if the cuts hurt everybody enough they’ll be motivated at the next election to vote these bums out.

Retiring At Seventy

I didn’t know this until the good folks on Insiders pointed it out but 70years old is going to be oldest retirement age in the OECD nations. Most nations are topping out at 67 or 68. The average life expectancy in Australia is currently 81.85 so assuming that goes up a little bit until 2035, one would think the government is hoping to keep the lid on the retirement years at about 15.

The budget is talking about offering $10,000 incentives to hire people over 50. Right now, people over 50 are Baby Boomers. I can’t imagine the government could fund such a policy forever into the future, given the logic of how little tax they could get back from such a worker, so once again we see the government trying to feather the nests of the Baby Boomers, just to get this idea over the line.

I keep trying to imagine myself at say, 65 going for a job interview to find work that will take me up to 70. I keep wondering what that job might be and whether there would be a 10k incentive to hire me then (or if that 10k would be worth anything in that future). Having spoken to a number of my fellow Gen-Xers the feeling is “fuck off, we’re going for a revolution!” You get the feeling that the inter-generational conflict is going to heat up from here on in. The Treasurer sure lit a fire there.

We’re Dumb Ignorant And Uncultured, But We Can Build Roads

The carrot dangled in front of Australia for all this budget pain is that the Federal Government will spend 40 billion on roads for the next 4 years. This is going to be matched by 42 billion from State governments and the private sector. 82billion over 4years is a lot of road building. And the look of smug satisfaction as they’ve been leaking this bit has been a bit much.

Most countries that try to stimulate their economy by general construction end up building white elephants. This is true of Asian countries and European countries. Bridges to nowhere and ghost cities of apartments with nobody living in them happen exactly because a government thinks a general construction spending spree will stimulate the economy. It would have in the 1950s but clearly in an age when GM, Ford and Toyota are closing up factories, we’re entering a post-industrial phase of the economy, like it or not. If you are going to build 82 billion dollars’ worth of infrastructure, are roads really where you want to put your money?

Keep in mind that this is the same luddite government that wants to dumb down and dismantle the NBN, another infrastructure project that might be more appropriate for our stage of development.

It’s also 82 billion that’s not going into education and training because this government wants to get out of tertiary education altogether and make it completely user-pay. It’s 82billion that’s not going towards building a metro in our major cities, and it’s definitely not going towards an inter-city bullet train. What it is, is a decidedly backward looking commitment to build more of the same on the assumption that Australia’s economic needs are going to be roughly the same as they were in the 1950s and1960s under Menzies. It’s willfully stupid because clearly “more roads” is not what Australian needs more of over the other options that do not even get a look in.

And this is before we even look at the problems of petroleum as fuel for cars, and the economics of crude oil going into the future where we’re spending increasingly greater amounts of money to extract the same amount of crude oil. When we cease to be able to afford the oil, we’ll cease driving our petroleum-engined cars. When that happens you wonder what good these 82billion dollars’ worth of roads are going to be for an economy moving away from moving things around on the back of the petrochemical industry. Nobody in government has even looked at the ramification of higher energy costs on this economy and whether it is a smart move to put all our baskets into roads in anticipation of even greater road transportation. Even with a multiplier effect, this 82billion is going to be money badly spent.

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