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Federal

May 19, 2014

War on kids: budget just latest attack on younger Australians

The federal budget measures targeting young people are just part of a much wider policy attack on younger Australians.

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One of the most common criticisms of last week’s federal budget was the extent to which it targeted young people. Critics correctly noted a range of measures targeted at younger generations:

  • Unemployed people under 30 will, unless exempted, be prevented from accessing Newstart for six months, and then kicked off it after six months, at a time when the government forecasts unemployment to rise by over 50,000;
  • People under 35 with disabilities face being moved off the Disability Support Pension and onto Newstart;
  • Apprentices will lose nearly a billion dollars from the abolition of the “Tools For Your Trade” program and will face significant costs, and higher debt, if they want to take on an apprenticeship;
  • Graduates will be required to contribute more to, or accelerate their repayment of, higher education loans by $4.3 billion over in the next four years. Those undertaking postgraduate degrees will also have to pay more;
  • Younger people will be the ones who have to work until they’re 70 to support the health, welfare and aged-care systems looking after older generations; and
  • University fees will also be deregulated to enable tertiary institutions to begin charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for courses.

There’s particular irony in the government’s changes to higher education funding given who is doing it. The average age of Tony Abbott’s cabinet is around 53 — a generation of men who benefited from free higher education. Treasurer Joe Hockey, for example, who was at Sydney University at the same time I was, would have only paid the “administration fee” introduced by Labor in the mid-1980s for his law degree; it wasn’t until the end of the 1980s that the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced by the Hawke government.

For young people considering study or training options who don’t have family resources to fall back on — parents who can help them pay their way through a degree, or buy them trade tools — the future looks considerably bleaker now than it did before last Tuesday.

But this focus on how the budget affects the young is misleading, because its measures are only the most recent, and relatively small, part of a much wider array of policies skewed against them but so embedded in our political and economic culture we barely see it. The government insists that its budget strategy is about ensuring we don’t saddle future generations with debt. But the path back to surplus will take so long partly because while the government is cutting Newstart payments, punishing students and targeting low-income earners, it is handing out largesse to other groups.

For example, all companies below $5 million in revenue (which will include large companies able to restructure themselves accordingly) will be given a 1.5% tax cut, costing nearly $10 billion over forward estimates. The already massive cost of superannuation tax concessions, which flow disproportionately to high-income earners and middle-aged and older Australians (and usually men, rather than women), will rise from $30 billion this year to $50 billion in 2018. And the $80 billion in cuts to funding for health and education will flow through into poorer health and educational outcomes and more fragmented health and education systems.

As a sort of bow on the gift-wrapped government present of cuts, not even immunisation, which faces a battle against the dribbling lunacy of anti-vaxers, will be exempt from the bulk-billing co-payment.

“… as a society, we’re engaged in an economic war on our younger citizens.”

One of the front lines of this war on the young is the government’s refusal to countenance any action on climate change — even to the extent of announcing the end of Direct Action before it had even begun. Indeed, large CO2 and other greenhouse gas emitters — those responsible for Australia’s contribution to climate change — will benefit by nearly $10 billion from the abolition of the carbon price. Failure to address climate change now is a vast inter-generational shift in wealth from Australians who will live in the second half of this century – and who will face lower economic growth, higher prices, fewer jobs and higher taxes as a result of it — to our own, so that we can enjoy a standard so living so neglibly higher that it is no longer even noticed by consumers.

And both sides of politics have resisted doing anything significant about housing affordability beyond talking about it — meaning property owners (whose homes are exempt from capital gains tax) and those with sufficient income to take advantage of negative gearing are privileged over those entering the housing market. This complements the resentment of existing property owners toward increasing the density of housing in established suburbs and the unwillingness of state and local governments to provide the land and infrastructure needed to significantly increase housing stock, ensuring younger people are priced out of the housing market in major population centres. Both negative gearing and the capital gains tax exemption also have significant revenue impacts that cost governments tens of billions of dollars of year, but remain untouched by policymakers.

Thus the short-term measures targeting people under 35 in the budget occur in a broader policy landscape of deeply embedded long-term policies against their interests. And that landscape is one in which the government’s generosity to previous generations — free education in the 1970s and 1980s, middle-class welfare and generous pensions in the noughties — is shut down for them under the insistence that it’s doing them good, that they must pay their own way and support an ageing population as well.

This policy bias against the young and future generations isn’t a monopoly of one side of politics. Both sides at the federal, state and local level have presided over a de facto housing policy that favours home owners over young people for generations; it was Labor that dramatically ramped up higher education costs and began the commodification of higher education that has turned education into just another service and export industry. Moreover, the Left has its own particular way of waging war on young people, which like the Coalition’s is dressed up as being for their own benefit. The Left specialises in paternalistic demonisation of young people, insisting, in the face of constant evidence to the contrary, that young people are prone to alcohol abuse and violence and regularly calling for the drinking age to be lifted, places where young people socialise to be shut down and social media somehow censored.

But the symbolism of the budget attack on the young is apt: targeting young people appears to be a particular characteristic of the Coalition, a government of middle-aged and old white men heavily reliant on middle-aged and old white men for advice, with a policy agenda of ensuring economic and fiscal benefits continue to flow to people like themselves while the rest of Australia “shares the burden”. The Coalition has form on trying to block measures designed to encourage young people to enrol to vote, perhaps under the misapprehension that young people tend to automatically be progressive, although the simple maths of the Australian electorate are that the fewer non-older Australians are enrolled to vote, the more influence older Australians have, and they are strongly attached to the Coalition.

But regardless of whether the Coalition is the more determined opponent of the young or not, the budget is unusual only in making apparent what is normally ignored as business-as-usual: as a society, we’re engaged in an economic war on our younger citizens.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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72 thoughts on “War on kids: budget just latest attack on younger Australians

  1. Nailed it pretty well there Bernard.
    Abbott as the champion of the anti-vaxers is particularly gross.
    Just as well it appears that Clive is too canny an operator to get sucked in to that piece of garbage.
    It appears (at least from my twitter feed) that @CliveFPalmer confirms PUP will vote AGAINST raising the pension age,GP co-payment & 6mnth delay in receiving newstart

  2. I’m an older whitish male, and this isn’t done in my name!

    I have three kids with HECS/HELP debts, but even if I didn’t my grandchildren deserve a better future.

  3. Thank you BK for encapsulating the issues for youth from this budget.
    There is only one positive; that being Abbott and his crew are stirring up youth to protest, something that has been missing for many years, but needed now more than ever on so many issues.
    No LNP imposter will be able to visit any higher learning centre without the possibility of protest action action against them.
    Todays: Sophie Mirabella who was at a Melbourne Uni (another LNP snout in the trough) received a rousing welcome for her diatribe on the new world order of LNP privilege; Revoultions always come from below.

  4. Thanks for this Keane. I’ll have to show this to my parents – socially liberal to the point of being bleeding hearts, yet they still insist that houses only seem expensive and that if I just considered the fact of wage inflation, I’d see that it’s just as easy for me to get into the market as it was for them in the late 1970s. D’oh!

  5. “”…Coalition, a government of middle-aged and old white men heavily reliant on middle-aged and old white men for advice…”

    BERNARD, If the old white men had any brains I could learn to live with your description of old, middle-aged, etc. BUT why, oh why did Tony Abbott scrape the bottom of the rusty old boiler and come up with has beens, don’t wanna bees and men whose ears are bookends on a vacuum?

    How is it remotely possible to go forth and pick out the dregs in the electorate; idiots like Eric Abetz, George Brandis, Scott Morrison and Christopher Pyne and put them to running a country? The emperor Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned which puts him several kms ahead of Tony Abbott who has only giggled while watching Hockey-lighting the flame.

  6. I guess that if under 30 year old Australians are to receive a lesser amount than the rest does this mean they they are now exempt from things like conscription?,

    I eman at 18 you can
    vote
    drink,
    enter into contracts etc etc

    so on what basis is there an age discrimination for payments?

  7. The real question is, will Abbott be allowed to get away with his pre-election lies. And will the print and electronic media be permitted to pursue Abbott as he should be. Probrably not !

  8. “we’re engaged in an economic war on our younger citizens.”

    That we are BK.

    And don’t think that there are plenty of middle aged white males out there, like me, who have children, and are disgusted by what looks like the most unfair budget in my lifetime.

    And I would wager there are plenty of childless middle aged people who are outraged by it as well. It isn’t just if you have children or not, it is about one’s sense of fairness.

    The dole changes, the unregulated uni fees AND the increasing of the interest rate on HECS/HELP, are a terrible squaring up against the youth.

    The lack of action on superannuation rorts and negative gearing are ideological signposts on where this government comes from, and is determined to head to.

    Hell in a handbasket.

  9. An economic war on younger people? I’m shedding a tear as I contemplate the awful prospect of our younger citizens going without backpacking holidays in Kathmandu or missing out on Oktoberfest in favour of study.

    How could the Coalition be so, how did you put it Bernard “waging economic war on our younger citizens”?

    Sob!!

  10. hhmm,, 3rd paragraph ” don’t think that there aren’t! plenty of middle aged …….”

    Play with double negatives, get burned. Oops

  11. JohnB, that leaves Bronnie where she’s always been, a harridan cheering on old white men. Just like the other Bishop. Is it because a disproportionate number of these old white men are Catholics they will allow women to join the club, but only if they’re Bishops? Just asking.

  12. Oh dear David Hand. Another Tory who hasn’t seen how the less privileged live, assuming that all those young people on holidays didn’t work for their money.

    And not understanding that having been priced out of the housing market and unlikely ever to be able to break into it, they decide to spend their money on something else. Damn them, what a hide.

    FYI DH, this isn’t about the kids who can afford the overseas holidays, this is about dole recipients who don’t have wealthy superannuated and negatively geared parents, who live in areas where there aren’t jobs, who will one day be begging for food parcels.

    In other words, people you deny the existence of.

    Carry on. You always do.

  13. David Hand clearly lives in the other world of Abbott and co with the gap year thing.
    The entities that announce the largest profits by far in Australia are the big four banks- would it not be possible for them to be paying some special tax/levy /whatever instead of all this hurting folk who it will hurt so much?

  14. @13, Dog’s breakfast – even those of us who have such parents can’t necessarily afford those holidays. Or at least, I couldn’t while studying. I’ve been able to have a few since I started working full time.

  15. If you are look at wider contexts – what about Abbott shafting all seniors seeking financial advice. Who is running the government? Try Gina and Brogden/NAB … Every way you turn this government is shafting the voters whilst protecting vested interests.
    This budget is the revelation.

  16. I grew up in a world where my father earned such a low wage that we didn’t pay any tax at all. I know what it’s like to have very little.

    There was no screaming and squealing that the world owed us a living in my family.

    And Jimmyhaz, get a life. I pay my subscription like everyone else. As you do I’m sure.

  17. JohnB – shoosh, it’s not polite to refer to Bronhilda’s little hirsuity problem.
    On the pure economics, talk of early preventioon being better value than late intervention re most ailments, surely there is no more perfect example than vaccination.
    They may not be ‘penny-wise’ but they certainly are “pound-fukwits”.
    AndyD – I’d like to see the tories ‘hag-ridden’ by The Speakerix but she isn’t even up to that, constantly receiving riding orders from Chrissy Whyne.
    JimmyH – “half convinced”!?!?

  18. I’m 59 and on a DSP as I have a rare illness which will end soon in renal failure. I don’t mind doing my bit for future generations, for my children and grandchildren. After watching Mr Hockey do his dance and smoke his Cuban, I remembered 2004. For those of you who forgot, Mark Latham stood up and said that Federal MP’s should receive the same super as the working Australian, being 9%.Guess who refused and fought this as he wanted to keep, correct me if I’m wrong, his 60% taxpayer funded super installments. So Mr’s Abbott, Hockey and Truss, will live very nicely, thank you to the taxpayer, whilst young people under 30 will starve and end up living under their new bridges, thanks to their $80 billion dollar roads program, which will no doubt employee 457 visa holders.

  19. David Hand – your posts simultaneously betray a willful ignorance of how difficult it is today for many young people to complete a degree and, allowing that, pursue a career, and a curmudgeonly attitude of ‘I had it hard, so everyone should stop whining and have it just as hard’. Nevermind the fact that none of the politicians responsible for this disgrace of a budget ever had it hard. You are the sort of person who would rather smack Australian youth down than offer them a hand in support, something for which there is no justification, fiscal nor moral. Is that meaningful enough for you?

  20. Without doubt, the best budget analysis I’ve seen. It advances a powerful argument based on the almost taboo premise of inter-generational justice. Well done and thank you, Bernard.

  21. Taking money out of an economy…even the dole payments…..makes not economic sense whatsoever!
    It reduces over people’s spending power …..you know ..the mums & dads who have to support them! It also prevents them from finding their own feet in the real world. You are simply changing who is supporting them.
    One should ask Why? Because it saves them money in the budget Short Term…there is no other reason!
    As for David….Foot in Mouth…
    I too grew up poor…and ur right….no one screamed or squealed that the world owed us….but then again…
    I also remember cruel bosses who believed because they were treated badly that they could in turn treat us badly!
    Seem to remember lots of Strikes because there attitude was just like yours…..We don’t owe you a decent wage or conditions…..you owe us for giving you a job!
    Do seem to remember the words Unfair! Discriminatory! to mention a few. All the people want is equal opportunity…a leg up/or encouragement…..not a handout or freebies! As for the above proposal….No one discriminates more in our Society than the Government!
    They should stop it NOW! And lead by example when it comes to being FAIR!
    It is Short Term thinking & Short Term Policy that is disgusting because it is based on Discrimination and if a Company employed that type of discrimination against its Workers….the Legal System would cry FOUL!….Probably a whole bunch of Lawyers would fight to sue!
    Why does the Prime Minister believe that this Policy does not STINK of discrimination?????
    His is a trained Lawyer….and based on that alone….this tells us that his focus is on Party Ideals…..and to hell with any LEGALITY of his proposed Policy!.
    Well, neither himself or Mr Hocking are Leaders of any statue, if they truly believe that the rest of the Nation agree with them.
    DONKEY 1 has failed his first Leadership test….to keep a tight rain on the radical members of his own party and put all proposals to the test of …is the outcome fair to all?

  22. David Hand – To borrow a line well known to what I presume is our joint generation, Your’e lucky. Very little? We had nothing and every morning I had to lick the road clean with my tongue just to be fed. That doesn’t mean that there should be no Uni fees or the dole for today’s young people.
    We had no fees, easily accessible social security payments and a labour market where you could walk into a job. Qualified immigrants came here because we didn’t have enough workers, now they come here because our young people can’t afford to get the qualifications necessary to get a job – unless it’s driving a mining truck in the only taxpayer subsidised industry left.

  23. This policy has struck a really strong chord with the public , more so that anything else . Its a policy with an unashamed ideological edge to it. Its so brutally hard . What is the point of a surplus if it puts the country into recession ? cultural recession.

  24. Excellent article, BK. The people making these decisions had the greatest armchair-ride of any generation that’s ever lived and simply wouldn’t have a clue.

    Meanwhile, don’t mind DH, folks. He’s already admitted previously in these posts he doesn’t have the time to do any research. And doesn’t it show!

  25. Well Bernard has delivered the standard leftist analysis of the Hockey-Abbott budget – and has a few facts wrong about earlier ‘free tertiary education’.

    Bernard, university education was ‘free’ for those who could win a commonwealth scholarship pre-Gough. You went to a G8 university (because the explosion of tertiary institutions had not occurred), and you were probably in the top 10-15% of matriculants. You received a small means tested allowance and most worked shitty jobs in the holidays to earn enough to pay for next year’s books and a cheap car or motorbike.

    If you did not win a scholarship, you or your parents paid fees.

    Post-Gough, free education was expanded enormously with many institutes being regraded as universities, and new mickey mouse courses and second rate academics employed (these are now white oldsters with lots of DB super).

    When all that explosion became unaffordable, the Hawke Govt introduced HECS – and the principle of student loans payable after an employment income threshold. This has remained the tertiary funding system because the vast expansion of those numbers getting degrees was locked in.

    Many have thought that too many mickey mouse degrees exist, and the old system of fewer degree issuing universities taking the top 10-15% of matriculants and more Institutes of Technology, TAFEs and Trade Schools for the rest would be a better balanced system.

    I never liked the idea of graduating a student with a debt, but if you are going to try giving everyone a degree of sorts, that is probably the only affordable system.

  26. I can’t win a trick.
    I express a view.
    You lot say “What would you know about being poor.
    I say “I grew up poor”
    Then you say “How dare you say that just because you had nothing others shouldn’t either”

    I find Crikey comments useful because reading the views of articulate people who differ from me often helps me develop my own views.

    But not on this thread.

    A group of people were pushing a trolley along. They passed a crippled man beside the road. Someone said, “Why don’t we let the crippled man ride on the trolley?” So they did. After a while, one of the people pushing though “I’d like a rest” so got on the trolley. Others noticed this and began to get on the trolley as well.

    Eventually the trolley came to a hill and the people pushing couldn’t get the trolley to move so they said, “How about some of you get off and help push?” The trolley riders responded in a frothing rage, “How dare you ask the crippled man to help push!”

  27. A group of people were pushing a trolley along. They passed a crippled man beside the road. Someone said, “Why don’t we let the crippled man ride on the trolley?” So they did. After a while, one of the people pushing though “I’d like a rest” so got on the trolley. Others noticed this and began to get on the trolley as well.

    Eventually the trolley came to a hill and the people pushing couldn’t get the trolley to move so they said, “How about some of you get off and help push?” The trolley riders responded in a frothing rage, “How dare you ask the crippled man to help push!”

    Is this supposed to have some relevance to reality, or are you off in conservative la-la land again where most people would rather live on subsistence welfare than have a paid job ?

  28. Thanks, BK.

    @drsmithy. I think DH’s story is a parable for working for the dole.

    @DH. It’s a hella lot cheaper backpacking in Kathmandu than living in Australia. I don’t blame ’em.

  29. Well said Bernard
    He sheds crocodile tears “we have to do this for our children” meanwhile screwing them as hard as he can.
    And then there is Climate Change.
    Failing to act now to reduce carbon emissions means that our kids and grandkids will be burdened with extra trying to mitigate the adverse effects of a hotter, more hostile planet.

  30. I think David’s analogy is spot on. A pretty good description of how the welfare state evolves.
    Sure, it starts out as a worthy safety net for those most in need, but then becomes a refuge for those who want a free ride.
    And when the merry go round starts to slow, and the rent comes due, the free riders are the first to hide behind those that have a genuine need for assistance, to keep the merry go round moving.
    I cant believe the outrage of the university students as they look down the barrel of a 50 odd year career of quality earnings in a developed, educated, quality country like Australia, complaining about paying their “risk free rate” of interest loan a little earlier. And pointing to the poor as the reason why the status quo should remain.

  31. Spare us the crocodile tears, David @33. The reason you’re copping so much stick is because you completely ignore the guts of the article, which compares the hit on younger people to the treatment other sectors and demographics received, or, more aptly, avoided. If, as Joe and Tone repeatedly claim – while somehow remaining straight-faced – this budget involves all of us “sharing the lifting”, why not tell us what you make of the following?

    “For example, all companies below $5 million in revenue (which will include large companies able to restructure themselves accordingly) will be given a 1.5% tax cut, costing nearly $10 billion over forward estimates. The already massive cost of superannuation tax concessions, which flow disproportionately to high-income earners and middle-aged and older Australians (and usually men, rather than women), will rise from $30 billion this year to $50 billion in 2018. And the $80 billion in cuts to funding for health and education will flow through into poorer health and educational outcomes and more fragmented health and education systems.

    “One of the front lines of this war on the young is the government’s refusal to countenance any action on climate change — even to the extent of announcing the end of Direct Action before it had even begun. Indeed, large CO2 and other greenhouse gas emitters — those responsible for Australia’s contribution to climate change — will benefit by nearly $10 billion from the abolition of the carbon price. Failure to address climate change now is a vast inter-generational shift in wealth from Australians who will live in the second half of this century – and who will face lower economic growth, higher prices, fewer jobs and higher taxes as a result of it — to our own, so that we can enjoy a standard [of] living so neglibly higher that it is no longer even noticed by consumers.”

    (I would add the Alice in Wonderland-like fact that this “fiscally responsible” government’s plans for scrapping the carbon tax include maintaining the household compensation payments!)

    You further make the claim, “I find Crikey comments useful because reading the views of articulate people who differ from me often helps me develop my own views.” Really?! After you made the ludicrous claim in an earlier Crikey thread that the 2011 Brisbane floods were caused by Tim Flannery convincing an LNP government to change the operating protocols of the Wivenhoe Dam, I presented a mountain of evidence demonstrating that to be utterly untrue. You didn’t “develop your own views” one whit. You did what you always do: stuck to your guns and pushed the Murdoch/Abbott/Rinehart et. al. line.

    http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/04/04/a-tough-sell-can-these-spinners-change-your-mind-on-climate-change/?comment_page=2/#comments

  32. Bernard, I think you left out the mass migration of guest workers imported into this country that is also displacing the young (and middle aged and older) workers. Guest workers whether it be in the form of 457, spouse, permanent residents (paradoxical given its unsustainable for them) visas and citizenship/passport giveaways (it’s cheaper to get citizenship/passport then to renew pr). It’s having the (desired) effect of depressing incomes and increasing the cost of living and making housing even more scarce and expensive than ever…plus there is also the exporting of many jobs and industries….

  33. I think David’s analogy is spot on. A pretty good description of how the welfare state evolves.

    Sure, it starts out as a worthy safety net for those most in need, but then becomes a refuge for those who want a free ride.

    And when the merry go round starts to slow, and the rent comes due, the free riders are the first to hide behind those that have a genuine need for assistance, to keep the merry go round moving.

    The “free riders” in our system are wealthy baby boomers and landowners benefiting from absurdly generous superannuation and CGT concessions, supplemented by other tax rorts like novated leasing, negative gearing and part pensions for millionaires. They’re businesses leveraging mass immigration and undermining workers rights to suppress wages and increase profits.

    They’re not students. They’re not unemployed under-30s. They’re not poor pensioners. They’re not even families on $100k getting childcare assistance.

    I cant believe the outrage of the university students as they look down the barrel of a 50 odd year career of quality earnings in a developed, educated, quality country like Australia, complaining about paying their “risk free rate” of interest loan a little earlier.

    Yeah, it’s almost like they’ve looked at a budget that smashes the weak and poor while giving a nod and wink to the wealthy, designed by people who have overwhelmingly benefited from access to things like a free (or much lower cost) education and are now trying to take it away to continue funding their own ongoing largesse, and decided that’s wrong.

    Or looked at people talking about how we need to plan for the future while simultaneously undermining the young, establishing a permanent underclass and creating a policy framework to increase unemployment.

    Or looked at other countries like the USA and UK where these same sorts of policies have been implemented and the social disasters that have followed.

    Who in their right mind would be outraged about that ?

    And pointing to the poor as the reason why the status quo should remain.

    The poor *are* the reason the status quo should remain (well, actually it should be improved, but that would never happen under a Conservative Government, as facilitating class mobility is antithetical to their belief system).

  34. OK Tyger,
    I concede. A will take your word that the operating protocols for the Wivenhoe dam were never changed to keep the dam full as a response to fear of indefinite drought. I must have read that in a Murdoch rag.

    Keep on believing in the age of entitlement if you like.

  35. No doctor,
    The poor are not the reason the status quo should remain because too many non poor are freeloading on the taxpaying public.

    OK it may well be middle and high income earners who must do more but I am frankly sickened by the outpouring of bile from self-entitled activists who hide behind the needs of the poor.

    And we know the real agenda. It’s to get Tony. That’s why Shorten has only talked about broken promises and not about alternative ideas.

  36. The poor are not the reason the status quo should remain because too many non poor are freeloading on the taxpaying public.

    Indeed.

    But none of those “non poor” are relevant to the Liberals desire to turn higher education into another method of entrenching privilege, because they’re freeloading via the methods I outlined above, not through HECS and Austudy.

    OK it may well be middle and high income earners who must do more but I am frankly sickened by the outpouring of bile from self-entitled activists who hide behind the needs of the poor.

    This is what we call a begging the question fallacy.

  37. The people you are criticising Doctor are in fact the people who are paying about 70% of all the tax your generous welfare state redistributes to the poor, disadvantaged and the self-entitled.

    You must remember that next year’s GDP you are so keen to redistribute is not sitting in a chest under Joe Hockey’s desk. It does not exist yet and the people you call freeloaders are the people who will take business risks, employ people, work hard, pay tax and also pay $80 to visit their GP.

    The super concessions you are eyeing greedily are not payments by the government to the greedy rich. They are taxes not collected as an incentive to save. They are large because the so called rich freeloaders you want to rob are saving a massive amount of super for their retirement. Remove the tax concessions and people stop saving. When people stop saving, the pot of gold you want to get your socialist hands on will evaporate like snow in the summer sun.

    This is why Shorten and the ALP will not interfere with it should they win the next election.

    As Burt from Victoria wrote today, we finally get an adult government again only to discover that we have a country full of children.

  38. The people you are criticising Doctor are in fact the people who are paying about 70% of all the tax your generous welfare state redistributes to the poor, disadvantaged and the self-entitled.

    And ?

    You must remember that next year’s GDP you are so keen to redistribute is not sitting in a chest under Joe Hockey’s desk. It does not exist yet and the people you call freeloaders are the people who will take business risks, employ people, work hard, pay tax and also pay $80 to visit their GP.

    And ?

    The super concessions you are eyeing greedily are not payments by the government to the greedy rich. They are taxes not collected as an incentive to save. They are large because the so called rich freeloaders you want to rob are saving a massive amount of super for their retirement.

    You seem to have misspelled “tax avoidance by the greedy rich”.

    Remove the tax concessions and people stop saving. When people stop saving, the pot of gold you want to get your socialist hands on will evaporate like snow in the summer sun.

    So you mean they’ll spend it instead ? Buy stuff from businesses that employ people and pay their wages ? Reducing unemployment, lowering welfare costs and increasing tax revenue ? Redistributing wealth without the Government having to do it forcefully ?

    Why is that a problem ?

    This is why Shorten and the ALP will not interfere with it should they win the next election.

    Shorten and the ALP are largely beholden to the same neoliberal economic philosophy and baby boomer demographic as the Liberals. There’s barely daylight between most of their policies, particularly economic ones.

    With that said, they at least still have the benefit of a progressive history. Which is why they had aimed to legislate for fairer superannuation concessions and aren’t so nakedly hostile to the ideas of social mobility and equality.

    As Burt from Victoria wrote today, we finally get an adult government again only to discover that we have a country full of children.

    Heh. “Adult government”. Maybe in the sense spoiled and greedy princelings gifting lands to their lords and looking down upon the peasants with a sneer were “adults”.

  39. Before the budget: A rich person commissions a cake. They pay a cook to make it, who does a good job and delivers the complete cake to the rich person in exchange for payment. The rich person puts a slice in the fridge, then hands a slice of the rest to the government who then hands a smaller slice to the cook, keeping a slice for themselves. The Government then hands the remainder of the cake back to the rich person.

    After the budget: A rich person commissions a cake. They pay a cook to make it, who does a good job and delivers the complete cake back to the rich person in exchange for payment. The rich person puts a slice in the fridge, then hands a (bigger) slice of the rest to the government who then hands a (much) smaller slice to the cook, keeping a (bigger) slice for themselves. The Government then hands the rest back to the rich person.

    The Cook goes on Q&A or comments on crikey and says “The rich and the government stole my cake!” and “I can’t believe the Government is giving my cake to the rich!” and “No cakes in fridges for fat cats”

  40. The story of the crippled man originated with an old man, his grandchild and a donkey. People criticised him for allowing his grandchild an easy ride on the donkey. So he took the kid off before climbing onto the donkey himself. Sure enough passers by said what an odious old man he was to make the child do the walking. Finally he too got on the donkey. Then everyone railed at him for being cruel to an animal.

    In other words no one can win.

  41. “The people you are criticising Doctor are in fact the people who are paying about 70% of all the tax your generous welfare state redistributes to the poor, disadvantaged and the self-entitled.”

    With a couple of words omitted, this would almost sound like a criticism of the country’s ridiculous income gap.

    “The super concessions you are eyeing greedily are not payments by the government to the greedy rich. They are taxes not collected as an incentive to save. They are large because the so called rich freeloaders you want to rob are saving a massive amount of super for their retirement. Remove the tax concessions and people stop saving. When people stop saving, the pot of gold you want to get your socialist hands on will evaporate like snow in the summer sun.”

    Do you even read what you write before you submit it? Super concessions are basically tax evasion. Without them, the exact opposite of you write would happen – high income earners would have one less vector for evading tax, and thus more money would flow into the treasury, not less.

    “I cant believe the outrage of the university students as they look down the barrel of a 50 odd year career of quality earnings in a developed, educated, quality country like Australia, complaining about paying their “risk free rate” of interest loan a little earlier. And pointing to the poor as the reason why the status quo should remain.”

    I truly wonder what world people like you are living in. I know a higher proportion of university-educated people stuck in unskilled jobs with pathetic pay and no job security than those with proper careers. Do extreme right wingers have to convince themselves that there’s a neverending supply of good jobs out there in order for any of their arguments to make sense?

  42. No Brendan,

    Remove super concessions for income earners to save and they would earn less income. Less wealth created. Less tax paid. The notion that GDP is an already existing pot of gold that can be pillaged by rent seekers is a lefty fantasy.

    We “right wingers” don’t believe these good jobs are easy to come by. We just believe the government can’t create them and we believe the market has a better chance.

    Get out there and create something people want mate. That’s the way. It will open your eyes.

  43. Remove super concessions for income earners to save and they would earn less income.

    That doesn’t even make sense.

    Less wealth created. Less tax paid.

    Non-sequitur.

    The notion that GDP is an already existing pot of gold that can be pillaged by rent seekers is a lefty fantasy.

    The notion that this is what “lefties” think is a conservative fantasy.

    We “right wingers” don’t believe these good jobs are easy to come by. We just believe the government can’t create them and we believe the market has a better chance.

    The market will not create jobs without demand for products and services.

    Get out there and create something people want mate. That’s the way. It will open your eyes.

    Unfortunately thanks to you and your ilk, people are becoming too poor to buy anything I might make.

    Which is the inevitable and obvious result of neoliberal policies that nevertheless seems to not have occurred to the acolytes of Thatcher and Reagan.

  44. Do extreme right wingers have to convince themselves that there’s a neverending supply of good jobs out there in order for any of their arguments to make sense?

    It is a core article of faith in the contemporary right (particularly the extremist Libertarian fringe) that people are only ever unemployed because they’re lazy.

    Thus the “logical” (though completely wrong) conclusion that getting people off welfare is achieved by making welfare increasingly worse or (as Hockey has started to do), eliminating it entirely.

    The social ramifications of thousands of people without work, without prospect of work and without the means to feed themselves and their families – much like the economic ramifications of driving all but a handful of peoples’ income to subsistence levels (who’s going to generate economic activity without disposable income) – is something that just never crosses their mind.

    But no-one ever accused conservatives of looking ahead.

  45. “I know a higher proportion of university-educated people stuck in unskilled jobs with pathetic pay and no job security than those with proper careers”

    I love it when people say, “Well, I know a few people who so you must be wrong!”
    Gotta love the sample size of “people I know”. Bit of a homogenous group don’t you think?

    To check out the true nature of the advantage those wih a degree experience, best to check out the ABS figures around the relative unemployment rates, participation rates and earnings between those with a degree vs those without. Then you can get back me.

  46. After the budget: A rich person commissions a cake. They pay a cook to make it, who does a good job and delivers the complete cake back to the rich person in exchange for payment. The rich person puts a slice in the fridge, then hands a (bigger) slice of the rest to the government who then hands a (much) smaller slice to the cook, keeping a (bigger) slice for themselves. The Government then hands the rest back to the rich person.

    You forgot the part where the rich person also puts a couple of cakes in his wife and children’s fridges without giving anyone else a slice.

    Not to mention the part where the Government tells him he’ll get all those slices he gave them back again in a few years.

  47. “I love it when people say, “Well, I know a few people who so you must be wrong!”
    Gotta love the sample size of “people I know”. Bit of a homogenous group don’t you think?”

    It’s no more absurd than the statement of yours I was directly replying to, which suggests that a university education is a golden ticket to a high paying career. There are plenty of graduates out there stuck in $32k/year jobs, waiting for older generations to retire so that they have half a chance of finding proper employment.

  48. Looks like David is a large fan of trickle-down economics.

    If 30 years of info from the US has shown us anything, it’s that the only things that trickles down onto the poor are things that would be much better suited to toilets.

  49. Who are these poor you are talking about Jimmy? I’m all for supporting them.

    830,000 people in Australia who are too disabled to make a contribution? Give me a break. All I get in the Crikey crypt about getting that vast pool of talent contributing is, “Where are the jobs?” Well they’re not on the north coast of NSW where so many DSP recipients live. They will come from the maligned wealth creators in this country who pay most of the tax, employ most of the people, generate most of the country’s GDP and pay $90 to visit the doctor.

    Surely you can do better than allude to one of the most unequal societies in the world as the only alternative to eternal deficits?

  50. “Wealth creators”

    Give me a break, wealth hoarders is a far more apt term.

    The only wealth creators are those who do the majority of the consumption in any given society: i.e the middle class.

    Your musings on those on DSP are utterly meaningless as well. What is a suitable amount of DSP recipients, and what have you based this number on?

    Finally, government deficits aren’t a bad thing, and neither is government debt.

  51. 830,000 people in Australia who are too disabled to make a contribution? Give me a break.

    830,000 people who have no way of making a contribution, and a large chunk have probably been shuffled onto a disability pension by doctors with a shred of conscience due to the dismal inadequacy of newstart or austudy.

    All I get in the Crikey crypt about getting that vast pool of talent contributing is, “Where are the jobs?” Well they’re not on the north coast of NSW where so many DSP recipients live.

    Even ignoring the social consequences of forcibly shuffling people around the country, how do you propose someone without any resources relocate for work from a sheer logistics perspective ?

    They will come from the maligned wealth creators in this country who pay most of the tax, employ most of the people, generate most of the country’s GDP and pay $90 to visit the doctor.

    Ignoring the insultingly elitist and paternalist view that we need these “wealth creators” (apparently the economic equivalent of fine china, given how much they need to be guarded and lavished) to shepherd us all along the path to success, the question is left hanging: why aren’t they already doing it ?

    Surely you can do better than allude to one of the most unequal societies in the world as the only alternative to eternal deficits?

    Given both this Government and other neoliberal sychopants like you are chomping at the bit to follow the US model, it’s a perfectly apropos comparison.

  52. Thank you doctor for expressing your view that many people on the DSP are not in fact disabled. It is that sort consensus that enables us to move onto the more practical question about how we mobilise them into making a contribution to the economy.

    Of course we need these wealth creators to pay all the tax and take entrepreneurial risk. It’s what drives economic growth. That is why the ALP did not raise taxes in its 6 years of government apart from its payoff to the Greens in exchange for Adam Bandt’s support and why Bill Shorten has absolutely nothing to say about any alternative policy to the budget.

    It is quaint to encounter someone who actually believes that next year’s GDP is in a chest under Joe Hockey’s desk. Mate, it doesn’t exist yet. Someone must create it before you can redistribute it.

  53. Obviously the wealthy just haven’t yet been given enough tax cuts, salary increases, made-up scholarships and such to generate a suitable number of jobs. Every time you lick a rich person’s boot, they fart out additional employment.

  54. Brendan – perfect precis of the myth, so beloved by their toadies & hacks, of the wealth creators.
    Esp. the last sentence – may I steal it occasionally?

  55. Well guys, you are now reduced to complaining about inequality in our society. At last we are at the real issue.

    Envy.

    Socialist republics have been proven not to work.

  56. As have plutarchies.

    You’re more myopic than I thought if you seriously believe everyone here is arguing from pure self-interest. But then again, myopic is what the far right do best.

  57. And keep recycling that “chest under the desk” strawman if it makes you feel more confident in your arguments, but it wasn’t clever the first time you said it.

  58. Sadly my previous reply went to moderation, presumably because it’s more than can fit in a tweet. We’ll see if this one does any better.

    Well guys, you are now reduced to complaining about inequality in our society. At last we are at the real issue.

    David, clearly you would not even blink an eye at people sleeping in boxes and lining up at a soup kitchen when driving past. After all, you’ll rationalise, like our glorious Liberal overlords do, their lives would be much worse in some third world asian country, or a few hundred years ago as peasants working the land. Plus they’re only unemployed because they don’t want to work.

    Some of us have fewer psychopathic tendencies and greater aspirations for our society.

    Envy.

    Wanting everyone to live a comfortable and productive life is not a definition of “envy” with which I am familiar. Do I need a special conservative dictionary to find it ? I bet the definition of “Class War” in there is pretty interesting as well.

    Socialist republics have been proven not to work.

    Yes, yes. I’m sure you’re thinking of North Korea and the USSR as you type that, despite their relevance to this – or, indeed, basically any other remotely mainstream discussion on this topic – being less than zero.

    Social democracies have proved to be the most equitable, socially mobile, prosperous, egalitarian, tolerant, productive and rich societies humanity has ever known. Countries like Switzerland (probably the single best example since it actually has proper democracy, rather than the sort of “elected dictatorship” style pseudo-democracy we have), Norway, Finland and Germany. Even the USA in its few post-war decades until the ’70s.

    On the other hand, societies with massive wealth disparities, dysfunctional democracy, high unemployment (especially amongst young men), low social mobility, few opportunities, insecure and low-paid workers and low levels of education – basically Liberal policy in a nutshell – tend not to end well. Though going all religious fundy can hold them together for a bit longer, which may be why there’s a quarter-billion in Hockey’s budget for school preachers chaplains.

  59. Doctor, you are hiding people with a sense of entitlement behind the poor and disadvantaged again.

    No, I’m considering them irrelevant in the context of larger and more important issues. Because they are.

    Unlike the people freeloading off tax rorts, et al, dole bludgers wouldn’t even qualify as a rounding error in Australia’s budget.

    But for conservatives, dole bludgers have nothing to do with economics, so that’s not really relevant, is it ?