The national capital gives and state capitals take away. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman often reminds us readers that the federal government is an insurance company with an army, delivering relatively few services directly. It’s lower-level governments, he points out, that employ the schoolteachers, police officers, firemen, and prison guards that make up the bulk of public employment.

As in the United States, so too here. From Canberra, government provides the insurance of the health and social services safety net and acts as the principal tax collector. It is state and local governments that provide the bulk of the services and employ nearly 87% of the nation’s public servants.

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And so it is that when governments are forced into budget cost cutting it is at the state level that sackings mainly occur. For a federal government the task is harder unless we ever find one that is seriously prepared to stop insuring sections of the population by making something like pensions harder to obtain.

Yesterday it was the Queensland government’s turn to set out plans to balance the books as Premier Campbell Newman’s team outlined plans to get rid of 14,000 jobs. Presumably it is from the health and education sectors that most of those reductions will come for they are the big employers and where the ABS figures show most of the recent increases have been.

They are too, the areas where the federal Labor government boasts of making an increased investment.

So much for ending the blame game. The national capital gives and the state capitals take away.

Jeff’s headless chook. The old Premier has not lost his way with words. As federal Labor makes another decision that puts off actually making a decision the list of problems being left to whoever governs after the next election, Jeff Kennett haws remembered the headless chook of his youth in his Melbourne Herald Sun column.

The headless chook. I predict we will hear much more of it from federal Liberals in the coming days.

The death spiral video. Since 1979, the volume of summer Arctic sea ice has declined by 75% and accelerating. This short video illustrates how.

A selective principle. The Labor government, you might recall, would not put the poker machine restriction legislation it promised independent MP Andrew Wilkie because, it said, there was no point because it did not have the numbers. Now it is pressing ahead with a bill to effectively ban an efficient method of fishing despite the Coalition declaring its opposition to the move and key crossbenchers voicing concerns it.

Principles in politics are a very selective thing.

News and views noted along the way:

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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