Heresy: Coalition States right to snub Gillard’s disability insurance gambit

The left-leaning twitterverse went into predictable convulsions of outrage yesterday when it emerged that (equally predictably) the four Coalition States had declined to pony up dollars for the 4 year trial phase of the proposed national disability insurance scheme.

However the chorus of condemnation ignored several salient factors.  First, the Gillard government’s own reports had apparently recommended that the Commonwealth should fund the whole scheme (presumably in part because the States simply don’t have the revenue base (see below).

Secondly, it’s only a trial anyway. Full implementation of the scheme is expected to cost an additional 8 billion dollars per year according to the Productivity Commission.  It is arguably cruel to raise the expectations of carers for the disabled when there is no plausible proposal on the table as to how that cost is going to be met (except by the Commonwealth acting alone or almost alone).

When NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell not unreasonably pointed that out and suggested that it was just a part of a plot to pressure the States into long term funding they simply couldn’t afford, Prime Minister Gillard said that “funding arrangements for the trials would have no bearing on how the final scheme is funded.”  Really?  Try asking Ms Gillard whether the Commonwealth will commit to funding the whole $8 billion itself.  We already know the answer.

Why can’t the States afford it?

At the risk (or rather certainty) of repeating points I made only yesterday((Apparently there is now a concept of self-plagiarism.  It sounds a tad precious but I’d better avoid it anyway by posting this recycling warning. ~KP)), ALL states and territories are currently in significant budget deficit and most will stay that way until at least 2014-2015.

Moreover, the reason isn’t hard to identify either:  the reduction in expected GST revenue in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.  Indeed, that recent reduction is just a re-emergence of a longstanding fundamental flaw in Australia’s federal system.

For the first few years after GST was introduced in 2000 it seemed as if it was a huge and unexpected windfall.  GST revenue exceeded expectations every year, and both the states and territories (including the NT) were able to retire existing debt.  But it turned out this was just a temporary and fairly short-lived phenomenon.  Australians had gone on an orgy of borrowing and gearing up to buy real estate through the nineties and early noughties.  After the Hawke/Keating government deregulated the exchange rate, interest rates and financial markets generally, banks and other lenders were queuing up to lend money to Australians at much cheaper rates than had previously been available and on easier terms.  Many people took the opportunity to buy a new and larger home and to invest in residential rental properties.  Property prices went up and up and up seemingly without end. People felt richer and richer as a result, and many decided they could afford to max out their credit cards on consumer spending as well.

That’s why GST revenue kept exceeding expectations.  But it was never going to last, and it all came to a screaming halt after the GFC.  Since then Australians by and large have been saving, reducing debt and living within their means.  And that’s a very good thing too, although retailers like Gerry Harvey probably don’t agree. It also means that state and territory governments, which had become accustomed to receiving an ever-growing GST pot of money each year, are being forced to wean themselves off the habit by cutting back on often very basic services.

The longer term significance of these developments is that it has again thrown into sharp relief the complete inadequacy of federal-state financial relations.  The states and territories are radically underfunded to allow them to discharge their basic responsibilities to provide health, education, roads and the like.  Moreover they don’t have access to income tax revenue after the Commonwealth hijacked it in a dodgy scheme sanctified by the High Court during World War II. The phenomenon is known as Vertical Fiscal Imbalance and it is arguably the most urgent governance problem Australia faces.  Yet neither Julia Gillard nor Tony Abbott is addressing it or even mentioning it in passing. Moreover, it’s hardly a breathtaking new insight. Constitutional Founder Alfred Deakin foresaw the fundamental flaw in our constitutional arrangements in a letter to a London newspaper in 1902:

“As the power of the purse in Great Britain established by degrees the authority of the Commons, it will ultimately establish in Australia the authority of the Commonwealth. The rights of self-government of the States have been fondly supposed to be safeguarded by the Constitution. It left them legally free, but financially bound to the chariot wheels of the Central Government. Their need will be its opportunity. The less populous will first succumb; those smitten by drought or similar misfortune will follow; and finally even the greatest and most prosperous will, however reluctantly, be brought to heel. Our Constitution may remain unaltered, but a vital change will have taken place in the relations between the States and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth will have acquired a general control over the States, while every extension of political power will be made by its means and go to increase its relative superiority.”

I’m not meaning to suggest that Vertical Fiscal Imbalance in itself is necessarily a bad thing, just that the States by some means need to have assured access to the baseline funding they need to discharge their service delivery responsibilities.  Until they do, it is disingenuous for Julia Gillard to accuse them of meannness for refusing to put themselves further around the fiscal s-bend by committing to a very expensive (if highly desirable) disability insurance scheme they cannot afford to fund.

In fact, in relation to VFI specifically, I actually think our evolved Australian solution, whereby the Commonwealth raises the taxes and they’re distributed to the States via an impartial body (Commonwealth Grants Commission) according to regularly reviewed formulae designed to provide all States with the funding they need to provide roughly equal levels of services to their citizens, is an excellent one. It’s one of the best aspects of evolved Australian federalism.

The problem is that the GST revenue pool itself isn’t big enough. I would support raising GST to 12 or even 15%, which I’m sure would solve the problem. If it was the higher rate then the Commonwealth might also require the States to abolish stamp duty as a condition (although I haven’t done the sums to see if that would be a fair trade). However in the world of realpolitik it probably won’t happen.

On the other hand, it’s greatly to Joe Hockey’s credit that he refused to rule out raising the GST rate the other day, while pointing out quite fairly that it was really up to the States to take the running:

After the Opposition Leader issued a “categorical no” to raising the GST two weeks ago, Mr Hockey canvassed the option and said it would be up to the states to press for the reform. “If you are going to have a discussion about changing the GST, the states have to lead the argument because they are the ones that need the revenue,” he said. “They have to take the community with them and they are not doing that.”

This week, former Treasury secretary Ken Henry warned that consumption taxes would have to rise to ease pressures on state budgets, while the Grattan Institute has called for the GST to be extended to food and education to fund income tax cuts that would lift economic growth.

By contrast, it’s greatly to Wayne Swan and Labor’s discredit that they have categorically ruled out raising the GST rate. Surely they could at least have fudged and changed the subject, because it’s a subject that will certainly have to be revisited soon.

Finally, given that the political probability of the States and Commonwealth agreeing to take the political heat of raising the GST rate in the foreseeable future is close to zero, what about a different approach?  The Gillard government could legislate to set aside an assured (and adequate for State needs) share of income tax revenue for the States and Territories, perhaps in exchange for referral of State powers over the waters of the Murray-Darling basin.  After all, the Commonwealth effectively stole income taxing power from the States in the first place.  Gillard could leave a huge legacy of major positive reform of Australia’s federal system.  Moreover, the political barriers to Tony Abbott unwinding such a scheme once it was in place would be massive.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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67 Responses to Heresy: Coalition States right to snub Gillard’s disability insurance gambit

  1. Mark Beath says:

    Ken, do you have a source link for that table on net debt? Some interesting comparisons to be made for us Spaniards …… errr …… I mean Queenslanders!

    • Ken Parish says:

      The table comes from this article in the Oz back in March. However the figures are generally in line with those in the federal budget that I also linked from yesterday’s post.

      You’ll note that the Qld figures show its net debt at $35 billion in the current year rising to $44 billion in 2014-15. However that was before the new Campbell Newman government’s budget, which I gather aims at returning the budget to surplus by 2014-15. However, as headlines in recent days have indicated, they’re doing that by some pretty savage cuts to what many regard as basic services. I think it’s pretty clear from the figures that some serious action was certainly needed, although one can certainly argue whether they’re cutting in appropriate places. I suspect ultimately the picture in Queensland is/was very similar to that in the NT which I analysed in yesterday’s article. That is, it really IS necessary to return State budgets to surplus over the medium term, and to accept that the shrinkage of GST revenue isn’t going to reverse itself any time soon. However net debt like that of either NT or Queensland proportions DOESN’T take us into Spanish territory or anywhere near it. In fact the debts of the Commonwealth and all Australian states and territories are a full order of magnitude lower than Spain, Greece etc and lower than nearly all developed nations. It doesn’t require Campbell Newman’s idiotic hyperbole to make the point that prudent management requires that the budget be brought back to surplus within a reasonable time of recovery from the GFC and that this requires some hard decisions about both spending and taxing levels.

  2. Yep. I fully agree Ken, if it’s the equivalent of universal health coverage for people with a disability, follow the Medicare model and keep it 100% Commonwealth funded.

    I understand why Julia has done what she has, but I think it just means more years of stuffing around until the NDIS becomes a reality.

  3. Patrick says:

    I agree entirely on raising the GST, and possibly reducing the exemptions.

    But the current government does tax reform a bit like I’d imagine you do burlesque, Ken ;)

  4. Johnny B Gone says:

    A couple of points. Firstly, my understanding of the PC’s report only recommended that the Commonwealth fund the whole NDIS if Commonwealth assumed control of all disability services, including that the states relinquish their current expenditure on disability services to the Cwth. This idea was floated by Commonwealth and rejected by the states because they wanted to maintain control of disability services. So if you asked Ms Gillard if she would stump up the whole $8billion, she would say yes, if the states stumped up all their disability funding. Personally, I think that would be a fair exchange. But the states don’t. There was, by the way, no preparatory COAG discussion that made the trial of the NDIS contingent of how a full scheme would be funded, certainly none of the states raised this as an issue prior to COAG. The context was always about a trial based on the commitment all states had given to implementing a full NDIS in the first place.

    Clearly you don’t work anywhere near the disability sector otherwise you’d know that hopes have already been well and truly raised by the bipartisan commitment to the scheme.

    I also think you brush over the fact that the 40 or 70 million dollars being requested is a trifling, piddling amount and as much is spent on machinery of government changes at any given moment. Particularly of note is that the Vic government is prepared to stump up $50 million to study how best to build a fuel line the Lindsay Fox’s Avalon airport. When you talk of hope, this irony is not lost on the disability sector.

    As for the GST, saying that Hockey should be credited because they’d raise the GST if the states took all the heat is disingenuous. Hockey knows very well , as you yourself state, he’s in safe territory by making a promise contingent on something that will never happen. In fact, I would say it’s more spineless than actually taking the position that you won’t increase a regressive tax.

    I’m more inclined to to the idea of using income tax to fund better services, but as well all know, tax is a dirty, dirty word in Australian politics.

  5. Russell says:

    Next to the debt table you say that ALL states are in significant budget deficit – – is that not a slur on our ex-treasurer, soon to be PM, Christian Porter? Because I’n sure Christian was budgeting for we in W.A. to have a surplus?

    Would be nice if someone could read the PC report and tell us what it really said – I wouldn’t, but I thought their idea was that the commonwealth would pay for it all, in exchange for the states using their budget allocations for disability payments to get rid of ‘inefficient’ state taxes.

    I too would like increased income tax on the well-off to pay for it. Though possibly a Tobin tax ??

  6. Tel says:

    Nett debt is largely a meaningless number in the case of governments, because the assets backing that debt are typically not marked to market on a regular basis (e.g. the NBN) and are kept on the books at their cost price. Worse than that, many of those assets are not the sort of thing that can be sold off to raise money anyway (e.g. government buildings, and believe it or not “intangibles” are used as balance sheet entries to make the debt appear smaller).

    The end result is basically that the entire gross debt (plus interest) must be serviced by the tax payers. Maybe the reality is just a fraction better than that, but there isn’t much point in persistent self-deception, else we really will end up like Greece and Spain.

  7. Tel says:

    The problem is that the GST revenue pool itself isn’t big enough. I would support raising GST to 12 or even 15%, which I’m sure would solve the problem.

    You have not made clear if you mean to just squeeze the workers harder (raise overall tax by somewhere between 2% and 5%, less the fraction of GST-free purchases) or whether you intend to redistribute that tax burden by reducing something else in proportion to your GST increase.

    In the former case, I can’t see anyone brave enough to take that to an election unless they plan for trickery (when I made my election promise it was opposites day so now I’m going to do the opposite of what I promised, hey, hey).

    In the latter case, who cares? All the money runs through the fingers of the Commonwealth, if they wanted to hand more to the states then they would do so right now.

    Personally I think the real problem is a “hide the sausage” problem. No one knows where the money is being squandered, because no one knows where it is really going at all. Yes, the two layers of government and their fiscal double-shuffle makes this worse, because it gives them more places to hide, but much deeper than that, government is just stubbornly resistant to transparency.

    My suggestion is that all expenditure (both federal and state) should be published in electronic form that is record oriented and machine readable (i.e. you can get a total without requiring a human to reassemble all the pieces). This should go right down to the individual purchases — exactly like the ATO expects any business to keep accounts right now. I see no reason why citizens should not have at least the same visibility of government operation, as government has of citizen’s affairs.

    A suitable chart of account numbers would make it very easy to group the expenses and each level in the chart should be signed off with a real person’s name as purser for that particular level of government. No more leaky bucket, no more blame passing, no more faceless, grey machine. Even a faint glimmer of light shined on these guys would do absolute wonders to sharpen up the concentration as custodians of other people’s money.

    • Patrick says:

      I couldn’t agree more with Tel on the transparency stuff. I’d settle for transparency to the $1,000,000 level for starters.

      I both agree and disagree about net debt. Yes, taxpayers foot the bill for nearly enough as to be same as 100% of gross debt servicing. However, there are two objections to Tel’s complaint as to this:
      1) that fact highlights why the taxing power is actually government’s greatest asset, and one of theoretically immense value.
      2) most government expenditure is, again theoretically, directed at increasing the value of that intangible tax base asset.

      My take on these is again twofold:
      1) Government should account like everyone else is obliged to – on a full accruals basis with mark to market where appropriate.
      2) It follows that Government should value its tax asset. I think they should recognise the net present value of the current tax base, including (obviously) adjustments for forecast growth in population and inflation. I think that they should also attempt to measure, but not recognise, the value of the tax increment, ie the government’s ability to quickly raise additional funding through increases in the tax rate/base, and report on these much like banks report on their liquidity and funding – ie, if GDP collapsed by 20%, how much of the shortfall under the revised conditions could be made up through tax?

      I’ve even half a bone for Nick Gruen. I think that the above accounts should be audited by an independent body with one member appointed by each of the RBA, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the IAASB and the Governer-General (no I am not a republican for a million reasons) and three members elected, one every general election, by the public.

      On the substance of Tel’s comments, I agree entirely. It is notable that many people who contribute to this blog (for example) are so willing to bemoan our ‘stupid’ national obsession with government debt, and yet that obsession served us, and continues to serve us, very well indeed through the current GFC. Yes we could have spent/invested/saved better/more but overall, comparatively, we turned up to the crisis in a bloody good way.

    • Ken Parish says:

      I thought I’d made it clear that I’m talking about increasing the GST rate in net terms to provide enough funding to the States to meet their basic service and infrastructure obligations. I was suggesting that an increase to 12% would probably be sufficient. Alternatively it could be increased by a bit more on condition that States wind back or abolish stamp duty.

      Now I realise that for a a libertarian Tory like you raising taxes is heresy in itself. We should cut them and privatise everything. But for centrists like me that’s a bad idea where the service or facility is a natural monopoly or a core public good required for any semblance of equality of opportunity e.g. health and education. I suspect that even someone like Hayek would have had few philosophical problems with a publicly funded national disability insurance scheme.

      Australia is a very low taxing country by western standards. We can certainly afford to increase the total tax take by a tiny bit by increasing GST by 2% to give the States enough to discharge their responsibilities. After all, leaving aside doctrinaire libertarians like yourself the vast majority of Australians actually DO expect their governments to provide basic services like health, education, roads, power, water and the like.

      I note that the Premiers and Chief Ministers apparently put an alternative proposal to PM Gillard, namely unanimous support for a Commonwealth levy similar to the Medicare levy to fund the NDIS. You can understand why Gillard knocked it back: – Abbott would certainly have instantly labelled it a “great big new tax” and the Coalition States would then have kept their mouths shut and let the Commonwealth take the heat.

      The problem is that whatever solution is chosen there will be political pain. It isn’t possible to fund an $8 billion per year new program out of thin air and there is no way the States can fund it to any significant extent given their current fiscal position.

      • Tel says:

        From the Wikipedia page describing a “Tory”:

        The Tory ethics can be summed up with the phrase ‘God, King and Country’. Tories generally advocate monarchism, are usually of a High Church Anglican or Recusant Catholic religious heritage, and are opposed to the radical liberalism of the Whig faction.

        Well, I don’t believe in God, I’m NOT a great supporter of monarchy in the absolute Feudal sense*, and although I do love this country I’m regularly disappointed by what goes on here. I’m neither Anglican nor Catholic (both of those groups seem to regard belief in God as something fundamental), and indeed if we had a political party that resembled the liberal Whigs I’d probably give them serious consideration. I’m quite supportive of the modern Tea Party movement which is as close as you are likely to come to bringing back the early American spirit of freedom which was (at the time) closely associated with the Radical Whig movement.

        If get a thrill punching out a straw man then I’ll gladly stand to one side, huh?

        Although I admit to being a bit on the radical side, I don’t support revolutionary political change on the basis that typically a lot of people get hurt. I would be happy to achieve the same ends by peaceful advocacy and evolutionary change. Sadly, when the US government defaults on its debts, there will be revolutionary change and not much any of us can do about that.

        * although I respect the King of Thailand who has shown excellent judgement in looking after his people, but Thailand is a 4-way balance between monarchy/military, democratic parliament, commerce and the judiciary, maybe a discussion for another day, but nothing like the French monarchy.

        • Tel says:

          “If get a thrill” ==> “If you get a thrill”

          It’s a lovely old keyboard if only it didn’t remove entire words from right under my fingers as I’m typing. Oh well.

        • john r walker says:

          Tel minor point , Anglicans on the whole are not fundamentalists. Obviously for a Christan faith in god is fairly basic but that is not the same as believing it should ,or even could, be compulsory.

      • Tel says:

        We should cut them and privatise everything. But for centrists like me that’s a bad idea where the service or facility is a natural monopoly or a core public good required for any semblance of equality of opportunity e.g. health and education.

        If I’m not mistaken, it was you who advocated raising taxes, not me who advocated lowering taxes. Just clarifying that little bit.

        As for “natural monopoly”, firstly, define it, and secondly prove it, and thirdly, how about that gnarly old trust issue?

  8. Q says:

    I would echo Johnny be gone’s comments.

    the PC shows where responsibility for disability services is as present and where they recommend it go to.

    I heard the NSW premier on the ABC local radio yesterday in Sydney and he didn’t raise any of Mr Parish’s arguments at all.

    On States and Revenue they could do worse than eliminating most of their narrow distorting taxes 9alah Henry rport) and broadening their other taxes such as land and payroll tax.

    It doesn’t need a lot of touches to ensure the payroll tax is very similar to a broad based GST and the States keep all the money.

  9. Patrick says:

    I’ll comment separately on lefty ideas of tax and redistribution. Unfortunately my primitive centrist brain is obsessed by things like the real world and math – nothing a quick lobotomy couldn’t fix! – so I can’t ‘get’ lefty ideas.

    Being lefties you all want to raise the ‘progressive’ tax on incomes, and abhor Ken’s suggestion of raising the ‘regressive’ tax on consumption. The first question you have to consider is how a tax on consumption qualifies as regressive – who do you think consumes more, Kerry Packer or a trainee on $28k pa? The second is how much you think you can possibly raise through each – income tax currently raises approximately $165bn pa, whereas GST is about $50bn (I’ve rounded in favour of the moron caucus). So if you assume that the income tax is equally collected across each percentile so that a 1% increase will raise 1% of $165bn (I know that this is laughably stupid, but I’m getting there) you get to $10bn by raising the top marginal rate by 2.8%, whereas you get $10bn by raising the rate by 2%. Seems a fair enough trade doesn’t it?

    NO. IT DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT. The estimate I could most easily find and reference was prepared by some geezer called Nicholas Gruen, p24 [pdf]. He thought that the top marginal rate was worth less than a billion dollars per percent increase (he was talking about decreases but mutatis mutandis…). So we are already at increasing the top rate to 56.5% – surely now even lefties can start to see the political problem if not the real one. To ice the cake, there is actually no way you could get $10bn with an increase to less than 60%, assuming nil behavioural response, and in the real world (ie one in which people respond) that is probably nearly 65%.

    Any lefty with half a brain (lol) would want to increase the GST to 15%, spend $10bn on the lowest quintile (more than compensating them for their contribution to the increase) and another $5bn on aborigines and the rest on various other stuff like infrastructure. It’s very instructive how few do.

    • Johnny B Gone says:

      “lol”? Really?! You actually use lol.

      Ok, so you’re from “the right”, which means you can’t get into an intelligent conversation without trying to pigeon hole those who agree with you as right, and those who don’t agree with as lefty morons. Who would have thought that on the internet you get people who disagree with you? Amazing eh?

      What’s instructive is that you actually think that Kerry Packer, when he was alive, adhered to the same tax structure as someone earning 28k p.a. and therefore paid, as a proportion of income, more tax. Kerry Packer was renowned for his ability to minimise the tax he paid. As a typical ‘righty’ you’ve quite a myopic vision of how the tax system works if you honestly believe that because Packer was richer he paid more, or at least the same amount of tax as a proportion of income, as someone who was on 28K.

      A GST is a regressive tax because people on lower incomes spend a larger proportion of their income on essentials than does a very rich person like packer. Economics 101. It’s really not that hard so I’m sure someone as clever and intelligent as yourself already knew that.

      Here I’ve preset your reply for you:
      Juliar is a witch who will bring ruin to this country. It’s a Greens, Labour conspiracy and it’s all the fault of the unions. Abbott and Hockey are wondermen and are the only people who know how to be in power.

      • Patrick says:

        Did you read what I wrote? As far as I can glean from the words, your comments on Kerry Packer are making my point, not challenging it.

        Here’s a hint: do you think Packer avoided GST when he shopped?

        How many essentials are subject to GST, anyway? We certainly pay very little GST on food except when we eat out, I think the main GST in our supermarket/market shopping is cleaning products and alcohol (maybe I shouldn’t say very little then, but very little as a proportion). We usually buy a few frozen pies or instant noodles as reserves and some biscuits and muesli bars and fancy chocolate but I think basically everything else is GST-free.

        Here’s the nub – if a low income earner is someone on less than $50k a year, for example, then what is the maximum GST they could incur a year? Most of them probably already get more than their GST back in transfers, and it should be feasible to overcompensate them for any GST increase.

        • Nick says:

          “How many essentials are subject to GST, anyway?”

          Rent, electricity, gas, telephone, internet, public transport, petrol, car servicing, clothing, shoes, cookwear, cleaning products, toilet paper, nappies, tampons, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, light bulbs, batteries etc etc

          Are any of these non-essential, Patrick?

        • marcellous says:

          I know this is a late reply, but as to whether Packer avoided GST when he shopped, I’ve no idea, but I’m prepared to bet that he got quite a lot of GST back for things which he paid for because he (or the entity which paid for things which he then enjoyed the benefit of) claimed them as business expenses one way or another and therefore received a GST input credit.

  10. john r walker says:

    Last night ( over a fewl glasses of red) a knowledgeable friend claimed that a uniform transaction levy of about .004% on all transactions through our 20 odd ‘banks’ would achieve the same results (as GST)… at less cost…… is that creditable ?( we were not exactly sober).

    • Patrick says:

      It is not creditable because I think they are including notional derivative balances.

      It is creditable with one less zero but again not in the real world, these are not new and they work a treat… at diverting financial flows elsewhere.

      Even more so than carbon taxes these are an all-in or none-in scheme.

      • john r walker says:

        Actually didn’t somebody like Soros ? advocate something like this as a way of slowing down the speed of transactions so as to make the market less prone to sudden ‘chaos style’ flips of state?

    • Johnny B Gone says:

      John, it’s been dubbed “the Robin Hood Tax” and some community organisations have advocated for its implementation. Here’s a link to how it would supposedly work (with an entertaining cameo from Bill Nighy.

      As for how efficacious it might, I guess we wouldn’t know until we tried it, but it seems like a good idea, particularly as it is now de rigueur for the tax payer to reinsure big banks and financial institutions.

      • Patrick says:

        That’s a non-sequitur, it follows from ‘

        particularly as it is now de rigueur for the tax payer to reinsure big banks and financial institutions

        .’ that we should charge them for the insurance (you don’t mean re-insurance), not that we should invent a different tax.

        • Johnny B Gone says:

          Ok fair enough. My point was that if the public purse has to bail out private finance when it collapses, then perhaps the idea that private finance should make a contribution in the public interest is not such a bad one.

  11. rog says:

    The item that the Commonwealth fund the scheme in its entirety was conditional on the states dropping inefficient taxes, a tax swap. ASAIK this would mean dropping those taxes/charges that contribute to their own inefficient disability schemes.

    The PC dismissed levies as they can be tinkered with by successive govts.

    Its all there in the PC report.

    • rog says:

      The PC also recommend that the National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) be State run and funded by national and state sources.

  12. Julie Thomas says:

    Patrick in response to this “Unfortunately my primitive centrist brain is obsessed by things like the real world and math – nothing a quick lobotomy couldn’t fix! – so I can’t ‘get’ lefty ideas.”

    Patrick I thought you had read “The Righteous Brain” by Jonathon Haidt? You did say a while back that he said that the ‘right’ had a more comprehensive understanding of morality than the left. I remember this because I had not noticed this idea among all of the really good ideas that Haidt came up with in his book. I impulsively fired off a comment ‘correcting’ you and then after reading more reviews and discussions, I realized you were correct and I had been misled by my tendency toward biased perception, reasoning and understanding.

    I note here that I have not read the book either, I claim poverty – can’t afford books on a disability pension and a disability pension is officially poverty – although I don’t feel ‘poor’ except when I have my nose rubbed in my ‘failure to make the right choices’ and my ‘failure to take responsibility for myself’. I feel crap when I read all that judgmental stuff from people like you who are doing so well in this world where selfishness and greed are admired. I did note all the whinging about getting ‘poorer’ in the thread about climate change and the carbon tax.

    But as another off topic piece of information that your righty – you claim centrist but I dunno – brain might not understand is that one of the ways that government ‘helps’ we poor free-rider people to keep up with the rest of you and not, through feeling poor, become even more dysfunctional – meaning obstreperous and criminally inclined – is though the provision of things like the public library.

    I have requested that they get Haidt’s book. Our local public library is a fantastic community resource, builds a lot of community capital you know. It keeps lots of us dysfunctional fee-riders off the street, encourages the stupid and low IQ people to take their kids to a place where they see people using and valuing books. Do you understand any of the evidence for the importance of role-models in people’s – not just children’s – lives.

    I do know people who could get the book for me for free by stealing it from the internet and I would do that; I would steal in certain circumstances. Now I guess for a righty that’s the problem; the left steal and the right, those jahb creators, they don’t steal eh? I read that in Ayn Rand; such a wonderfully simple way of moral reasoning the woman had.

    So back to the point about you not understanding lefty thinking; if you have read Haidt’s book and fully grokked the bit about the elephant, it’s rider and the path, you would recognize that in that comment –and the long comment you made in that other thread on climate change that I can’t find now – you encouraged your elephant to walk the path of your ‘preferred culture’.

    If you had read and understood Haidt’s point about using yin/yang symbolism/philosophy – that we are all one despite being very different – you would see that you are not centrist at all. You continue to set up right and left as bad and good and you still do not see that to be free individuals we need to be a free society not a society in which some do exceedingly well and others very badly.

    The way I see lefty thought is that they/we know that this level of inequality is wrong –that’s a moral judgement I feel justified in making; it has to be corrected; re-distribution is the only way that has worked so far but it’s not as if this is the ideal solution. But your way – the libertarian way – has not worked and will not work – it doesn’t take into account the way human beings actually are – and yet you continue to argue as if there is nothing wrong at the heart of your beliefs.
    If you were truly centrist you would be motivated to reason in a way that would provide us all – yin and yang – with a solution that allows for yin people like me who feel a moral need to do something about climate change other than just make sure I am going to be okay.

    Do you not understand that I could not respect myself if I did nothing in the face of this possible disaster? Is that stupid? I am old-fashioned I guess but I was brought up to believe that I have an obligation to do the best I can for others and for the next generation. That seems to be a stupid idea these days and it’s all the go to look after oneself and not even try to do things for those who are not able to do things effectively or efficiently for themselves.

    But the really stupid thing to do is to continue to believe in the face of all the evidence that human beings are essentially self-regulating indivduals. For some of us to do well we need a society that supports us, it is just simply not going to work to tell us to pull our socks up, make better choices and work harder. We can’t do that, without help and higher IQ’s are not going to make things any better; it is not a lack of IQ that is the problem.

    Your contempt and disregard for people like me who simply would not have survived without government help is distressing and very difficult to deal with. You don’t need the gory details about all the bad things that happened to me from birth onward but I will provide the story if you want. I suspect that I would be healthier mentally if I didn’t read all the awful things people like you say about people like me, but I continue to do so.

    Stupid eh? That’s what I hear about myself all the time and hence it is what I believe about myself. I hear you and your kind talk about what I ‘should’ value – freedom – and how it’s all my own fault that I’m poor because I ‘should’ make better choices like the good clever people do.

    But in my view you admire people who create jobs that actively damage people psychologically; you bridle at the idea that shame – or other emotions – kill people but there is a germ of truth in that emotive statement. I do know young people who clearly developed depression and anxiety from the cognitive dissonance that they experienced working in toxic environments like payday lenders, or for bosses who were arseholes, where the attitude of maximizing profit by taking advantage of people ‘down on their luck’ was so different to the attitude that they were inculcated with in their families.

    Apparently working class people used to be or still are brought up with, very differently to those of the middle classes. I’ll find that link.
    Does anyone remember that saying we once had in Australia, before you dreadful righty people started the concerted campaign to make us more like the US? I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time but thanks for nothing for that. Because it is luck you know that has the final say about success even if one has all the qualifications, despite all the foolish and self-serving ideas about meritocracy promulgated by those who have been lucky.

    So finally, I’ve run out of steam and am off to the kitchen to do the washing-up. But here’s an interesting link from the cultural cognition site just because there is so much really cool stuff out there to read and ponder.
    Patrick in response to this “Unfortunately my primitive centrist brain is obsessed by things like the real world and math – nothing a quick lobotomy couldn’t fix! – so I can’t ‘get’ lefty ideas.”

    • Johnny B Gone says:

      Patrick is no centrist which is blindingly obvious to everyone but Patrick. Many Right thinking folk believe they are centrist because we, as a society, have been progressively leaning more that way (to the right).

      And his arguments about the “real world” and how he has to live in it, (because his lived experience is the only one anyone could possibly understand) are, ironically, the standard response by empiricists who do nothing but look at numbers all day. Numbers of course don’t adequately relate the human experience so their models are equally inadequate and the lived experience of people who don’t fit within their models are discarded as intangibles.

      Alternatively, if Patrick’s a centrist, he’s of the mould of Zaphod Beeblebrox, where he believes he is central to the universe. Unfortunately, Patrick doesn’t have either the humour or the charisma of Zaphod to carry the role. So for Patrick, blinded by privilege and soured by his own short comings, the creed can only be Right is right.

    • Patrick says:

      No I am not really a centrist, I just thought that it was the fashion on this blog to be one so decided I’d try it out.

      Julie, I’m a little surprised and very disappointed (in my writing not in you!) at how you’ve reacted to my comments.

      First can I say that I am not sure at all why you think I despise you or people of ‘your ilk’ – I can assure you that I don’t. Nor do I see from my contributions here why you would conclude that I admire people who create jobs that damage people or that I bridle at the idea of shame killing people – perhaps you have confused me with someone else??

      Secondly, I think you have misunderstood the central thrust of my ‘libertarianism’: I agree that I generally do think that even ‘poor’ people are more masters of their own destiny than is often acknowledged, which could be taken out of context to suggest that I don’t quite to the contrary of your assertions, my thinking does indeed try and take into account how people work, my observations of how people work are the primary source of my ‘libertarianism’ which is mainly focused on what government should and should not try and do.

      My ‘contempt’ is for the central planners, who airily propose that the anointed caste wave their wisdom wands over the benighted populace and thus correct the many errors of their various ways, and lead them to live happily and wisely ever after. There is very little to suggest that they are right, or indeed that any person could be so wise.

      I actually have nothing against ‘government help’ as such, I have received government help myself and continue to do so, albeit I am a net funder of the ‘system’. As for the bit about role-models, really, you would be amazed at the extent of my family’s and friends’ involvement in education and social services, a course that history suggests I too will follow in time.

      But I do need to object to what is maybe the core of your comments. You say that:

      f you were truly centrist you would be motivated to reason in a way that would provide us all – yin and yang – with a solution that allows for yin people like me who feel a moral need to do something about climate change other than just make sure I am going to be okay.

      I say: what?

      I don’t buy that at all. Anything you might do on your own account about climate change is absolutely fine by me. But by implication you don’t mean that. You mean that I should make room for people like you who believe something or the other to impose costs on me for your beliefs.

      I disagree passionately.

      • Julie Thomas says:

        Patrick I also am often surprised at what comes out of my mouth and brain. If I have unfairly confused you with all those other libertarians who do criticise people on welfare, I apologise.

        You think I misunderstand your libertarianism; lol I think not. You are all so simple to understand.

        But you tell me, what is your type of libertarian? You probably did tell me but I’m not good at understanding you people on the right; there seems to be something like incommensurability that gets in the way.

        Did you follow the recent discussion on Crooked Timber about Hayek? I liked the Bleeding Heart Libertarians for a while but they are quite pathetic really, so young and privileged; they don’t have any new things to rescue libertarianism. It’s a mystery to me what libertarians are, now that Ayn Rand and Hayek have been pretty comprehensively disparaged as philosophers with anything to offer – not much of a decent original idea between them. Or is that not the case in your opinion?

        When you use the term ‘masters of their destiny’; it is clear to me that you have no idea about how the human brain works, and yet you believe that you have all the knowledge you need to decide what we should do about health, disability, poverty. Do you think that you know these things without having to get a psych degree because you have done well and that means you are able to judge these things better? Seriously I am asking what and how you think about this – not having a go at you.

        And all those emotional critical words you use to describe those dreadful central planners – scarier than climate change not –aren’t we over the reds under the beds paranoia? – could suggest to a psychologist that your response is emotionally labile; perhaps you are not using your rational mind to process this issue.

        Your last sentence about climate change is even more confused and stupid than mine was.

        And …I learned the hard way not to trust passion; don’t you think politics would be better with more reason and less passion? Maybe more humour tolerance and that sort of stuff as well?

        • Julie Thomas says:

          And Patrick you have misunderstood my motives when you say “You mean that I should make room for people like you who believe something or the other to impose costs on me for your beliefs.”

          There’s a lot of misunderstanding goes on, and not just about what words mean, so here’s a great song by a great blues woman. Check it out; you might like it

          I really truly don’t want to ‘make’ ‘you’ do anything. You don’t get far trying to force aspie kids to do anything so I do know that. I wonder that you libertarians try so hard to force people to be like you.

          What I am trying to do is protect my new grandchild from the bull shit pejorative judgements that I have had to endure. i know you don’t make them but there are a bloody lot of people who do; have you ever been to the CatalIaxy site?

          I suspect that he may have those aspie and bi-polar and a tendency for high anxiety genes like all my children do. I fear that, because of people who hold your attitudes and faulty beliefs, there will not be a benign government who takes responsibility for the health and wealth of all of it’s citizens if he should need support.

          You continue to advocate the idea that if we all just look after ourselves we will all be okay but really the only reason we intelligent apes survived and evolved is because we somehow developed the idea that we would be better off and we would progress if we looked after everyone, ie maximised life.

          Human newborns require a lot of altruistic care and when we all become selfish and only look after ourselves, who will raise the next generation. What does your ideology offer for a woman to give up so much to have a baby so that there will be another generation?

          I’m not centrist either, I don’t think a centrist position is possible, but the left right dichotomy is not very accurate or useful, it seems to me to just produce polarisation rather than allow us to sort out logically what we really want.

          What I’m thinking as a psychologist – but not one of those who helps people – is that we ‘should’ re-assess the assumptions about human nature that underpin both ‘sides’ of politics now that we do have more knowledge about this mysterious thing.

          Speaking though my hat, I see that this shared set of assumptions would provide the ‘boundary conditions’ within which we ‘self-organise’. But we self-organise all the time; we are self-organising now with a vauge and conflicting boundary conditions and with at least two different attractor states – left and right?

          I wonder why you want a political label like libertarian; I have found my aspie label very useful so perhaps your label fills some need. But I can’t find a political/economic label for myself. I like anarchy; it’s a wonderful word but I’m thinking ‘eclectic – ism’ would suit me.

        • Patrick says:

          Ok, I’m still not communicating clearly enough. Either that, or perhaps the difference between us is that I don’t think you are either stupid or confused just because I can’t, for my part, understand how you could think/believe some of the things you do.

          I do passionately dislike the tendency to central planning – I’m surprised that you are not more upset yourself at the hubris required for someone to think that they can plan better for millions than those millions can independently choose for themselves.

          I have the tendency myself sometimes – it’s so easy to fool oneself into thinking ‘I could do better’! But I try and be aware of it and resist it.

          So I’ll try an example of what I was getting at with the masters of their destiny bit.

          Consider payday lending. It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst the central planner/lefty caste that payday lending is predatory and sinister and should be banned/regulated very very heavily. However, it is a reality (my obession with the real world emerges here) that
          – payday lending exists because it provides a service that poor people need. I
          – if you cap payday lending rates at 14% then people won’t offer payday lending and
          – if there is no payday lending then people will still need the money and will resort to their remaining options
          – those remaining options are typically: (a) go without/miss the payment (often, rent or a utility bill), (b) sell assets, (c) wholly unregulated loan sharks, (d) theft and (e) default.

          It’s hard to see how the payday borrowers will benefit from the wise intervention of their betters.

        • Patrick says:

          Human newborns require a lot of altruistic care and when we all become selfish and only look after ourselves, who will raise the next generation. What does your ideology offer for a woman to give up so much to have a baby so that there will be another generation?

          Again, my ‘libertarianism’ has very little to say about people as such. It isn’t supposed to – that’s the whole point – I don’t seek to make people be anything particular. I’m more concerned about what governments/majorities would make them be.

          I don’t think that having babies is ideological. I think that humans have evolved as a social species and that having babies is a hard-wired component of that. I don’t see having a baby as ‘giving up so much’, rather there are trade-offs but I think they are worth it.

        • Patrick says:

          Finally, I want to respond to your point that you don’t seek to make me do anything. This just isn’t true.

          What do you propose to do about climate change that doesn’t make me do things, or force me not to do things?

          I’m not asking if there’s a justification for it, I’m just saying that you are proposing to make me do things. In some cases this is justified, in others it isn’t, but you have to start with accepting that it’s happening.

          Finally, I never read catallaxy, and I don’t believe I’ve criticised people on welfare, at least not that I recall. I can’t immediately think why I would. I would and do however criticise people who support welfare schemes that skew the incentives in favour of being on welfare instead of seeking work. I hope you can see the difference.

  13. Julie Thomas says:

    Sorry about that huge rant :)

  14. john r walker says:

    Anybody who has had family member or friend with major disabilities , brain damage, chronic long term illness like MND and the like, knows that our system for dealing with this sort of problem is not all that good. And we also know that the costs of healthcare are capable of growth that is much higher than inflation i.e no amount of increase in funding is likely to keep up with costs, for long.
    That is a difficult ethical dilemma.

    • Dan says:

      Hospital care runs way ahead of inflation, but we are not very clever yet about holistic/person-centred health care. There’s a lot of potential to be smarter about resource use here.

  15. Julie Thomas says:

    John, I understand your point but you missed mine and of course it is a weird idea but it is actually our ‘system’ of values beliefs attitudes behaviours assumptions etc, that creates a great deal of the ‘disability’ we see around us today. This is a claim that is usually rubbished by those materialists or realists on the right into maths and all that truth stuff, but the evidence is growing and convincing to anyone with a heart and some insight into themselves.

    My second point is that if we as a society had a real ‘human’ value system, the jahb creators would be motivated to find ‘work’ for those who can and want to contribute but can’t cope with the requirements of their current offerings. We could invest in the future by growing capable people right from the start; you know that stuff about prevention rather than cure? Who can make money from that idea? Lets just bang on about how growing wealth is the way to go; perhaps they just don’t like their fellow humans?
    One of the real furphies they used to loudly proclaim was that capitalism of their kind had brought about all the wonderful improvements in health and welfare we have seen over the past few centuries but the facts today show quite clearly that this is not the case.

    Now, big pharma is the main problem in health care. Google it; there is so much coming out about their practices that make the banks look like luvvies. Actually that’s a gross exaggeration but I’ll leave it in because I am human and justifiably pissed off with the way things are going.

    Health care would be easy if we really ‘cared’ for every life and aimed to use that life efficiently and effectively in the production of a society that works for all types of human beings.

    Do forgive my unrealistic idealism, just a woman you know; they never could think rationally.

  16. john r walker says:

    Julie there may be some really heartless bastards out there, but I think they are not common. I question that disability care is really such a ideological problem, in Australia.
    And “use that life efficiently and effectively in the production of a society that works for all types of human beings.” is a large project.

  17. Julie Thomas says:

    John W, from my point of view it is obvious that it is the ideology that gets in the way of creative solutions to the problem of ‘disability’. There can be no reconciliation between the idea of maximising human well-being and maximising profit.

    Of course I’m delusional, to thank that human beings could even imagine a society that valued and was able to use each and every human life to the best possible advantage of both the individual and the society? What a thought, silly me, totally impossible and not worth mentioning even as a horizon value toward which we might aim while all having and putting forward different ways of getting there?

  18. john walker says:

    There can be no reconciliation between the idea of maximising human well-being and maximising profit.

    Julie “reconciliation” is compromise. In civil societies the answer to questions of power always depends on the circumstances, that is what radical centrism is(least for me).

    I am a believer in the impossible…. that is not quite the same thing as belief in things that are not humanly possible and potentially dangerous if attempted by humans… have you ever read much Dostoyevsky?

  19. Julie Thomas says:

    John lets not quibble about words. Reconciliation can be a lot of things but you can’t compromise with something that is just wrong and from my point of view there are a lot of things that are just plain wrong with our western grand narrative and we need a whole new approach not a piss weak compromise that is dominated by either the conservative or libertarian agenda or the left for that matter but they are not the big problem; they don’t have much power.

    What you say here “I am a believer in the impossible…. that is not quite the same thing as belief in things that are not humanly possible and potentially dangerous if attempted by humans…” I have no idea what you mean, really I totally lack social skills and that sort of intelligence, and I don’t get the connection with Fyodor. The man had major depression brought on by the inhuman conditions of his society; that’s all. No wonder from me at his insight into the depths of human self-destruction.

    I went through a period of reading Dostoyevsky when I was young – so much I read that I fell we are on first name terms lol. Reading was all I did for all the time at high school, socially isolated, mental illness at home so I lived in the local library reading everything. My father who finally did kill himself when I was 19 gave me Thomas Paine for a Christmas present once lol.

    I’m not being patronising hopefully but I’m totally over that wallowing in the sad state of the human condition stuff; it’s all so western male you know, not that there is anything wrong with male/yang but I want more yin in my world, much more yin.

    Spinoza stands out for me as being the best and most insightful of those dead white males but of course I cannot read him in the original and rely on commentary about what he thought. I like him because, like Darwin, he was no hypocrite.

    But really no matter how insightful and intelligent those dead white male western thinkers were, they just didn’t have the knowledge to be able to provide us right here right now with any advice. It’s time to look at current thinkers – i suggest E.O. Wilson as the philosopher for today – he’s neither right nor left – and also we need to look at what the ‘other’ does and has done; to recognise that western ideas just because they have been so ‘successful’ are not necessarily the ‘best’. The Chinese have some really good ideas.

  20. john walker says:

    I have long thought that this should hang over the entrance of every blog that discuses economics law and policy.

    Ethics, Part II, Proposition XLVII

    Now many errors consist of this alone, that we do not apply names rightly to things. For when one says that lines which are drawn from the centre of a circle to the circumference are unequal, he means, at least at that time, something different by circle than mathematicians. Thus when men make mistakes in calculation they have different numbers in their minds than those on the paper. Wherefore if you could see their minds they do not err; they seem to err, however, because we think they have the same numbers in their minds as on the paper. If this were not so we should not believe that they made mistakes any more than I thought a man in error whom I heard the other day shouting that his yard had flown into his neighbour’s chickens, for his mind seemed sufficiently clear to me on this subject.


  21. Julie Thomas says:

    lol thanksJohn that is a good quote and identifies the source of a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings. However, do you think that there is right word to be found in every case? It seems to me that a change in our attitude toward the other person so that we prevent ourselves making the judgements that come so naturally to us when we ‘see’ the other person as an enemy, would work even better.

    There are right words in real science and in social science we try to emulate this ‘certainty’, we see this definitive naming as success in pinning down what things mean. But in the social sciences (and in aesthetics?) the words that are constructed to be clear and to eliminate ambiguity come out as jargon words that often alienate the very people that we want to reach with those words.

    This is the Spinoza quote I think everyone should read; “if you wish to see the truth, hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is a disease of the mind”. But of course it is not a disease of the mind, it is just how we learn to think, and to be, in a culture that conceptualises things into dichotomies – like good and bad – and sees that one has to win over the other.

    I don’t understand why though Spinoza is not more highly thought of. I suppose it’s the atheism thing and he comes across as a wacko with his pantheism ideas.

  22. john walker says:

    “do you think that there is right word to be found in every case” no, that is the point .
    If you understand that somebody sees chickens when they say “yard”, then there is no misunderstanding.

    “a culture that conceptualises things into dichotomies – like good and bad – and sees that one has to win over the other.”………. “there can be no reconciliation between the idea of maximising human well-being and maximising profit.”……

  23. john r walker says:

    Julie you should read this antinomies

  24. Julie Thomas says:

    Absolutely John, I agree with Nicholas about antinomy and lots of things! It all comes down to a paradox; that is the only ‘answer ‘. But you’ll only find a paradox a problem if you want an answer if you want to pin things down and of course if you want profit maximization; if you want person maximization or if you see that the questions are more important than the answers , you use the paradox that is the endpoint of any decent discussion to fall over laughing at the absurdity of the world.

    I suppose there is no real problem with understanding once we learned that a certain person was going to use rooster when she meant yard, but the problem I would have – as a psychologist – is why would someone do that. I can think of a few different reasons but I’d want to know more about the person.

    I think that to talk centrism we need to construct a similar set of ideals and or moral values from all the evidence available to us about what works and not.

    Got me here eh? :) “a culture that conceptualises things into dichotomies – like good and bad – and sees that one has to win over the other.”………. “there can be no reconciliation between the idea of maximising human well-being and maximising profit.”……

    But ….maybe I meant, in the first sentence that one side has to win and defeat the other side and institute the winners ideology whereas in the next sentence you quote I meant to ‘win over’ in the sense of being persuaded or convinced that this value is the only one – inmho – that will support a viable civilization.

    What, me quibbling? And using that handy self-serving bias? I think so :(

  25. derrida derider says:

    The states and territories are radically underfunded … they don’t have access to income tax revenue

    My understanding is that the states can implement their own income tax any time they like. They can do proper land and wealth taxes any time they like too. But then they have always preferred to get the credit of spending money without the odium of raising it – it is so convenient to blame “Canberra”.

    As for debt, it’s true the revenue bonanza of a housing boom is over but not one single state has a debt problem or is likely to in the near future. There is actually an argument that for governments responsible for long-lived infrastructure having an AAA rating means that they are either taxing too much or not investing enough (such infrastructure should be funded by borrowing). That’s especially so when they can currently borrow extremely cheaply.

    In a world where the risk-return curve is convex the optimal level of risk is never zero – as dsquared, a financier, keeps pointing out.

  26. derrida derider says:

    On the GST, have a close look at the Henry report. It recommends the states use a cash-flow tax to pay for abolition of stamp duty and other inefficient taxes and also reform (to broaden the base) and raise payroll taxes.

    If you follow how those two taxes get “passed through” to workers and consumers, it turns out the combined economic effect is exactly the same as a broad based GST. Surprise, surprise!

    Note Swan has not ruled this one out – but it is up to the States to pick it up, not him, and they have shown no interest. Which brings us back to what I said in the previous comment.

  27. Q says:

    Gosh DD I wish had had said that.

    I did!

    the States could gain a lot more revenue and aid economic growth if they got rid of most of their narrow based transaction taxes and brought in or broadened taxes as enunciated by DD ( (and the Henry report).

    come on Liberals. show us your economic rational policies.

    • rog says:

      ..and the PC report which recommended States dropping inefficient taxes in exchange for offloading disability costs onto the Commonwealth – tax swap. Curiously (or not) LNP Prems reluctant to let go of revenue sources and in QLD Newman is cutting some disability services.

  28. Julie Thomas says:

    Patrick we have run out of ‘replies’ – god can’t women talk eh – I assure you that the problem in communicating is not yours – it is the lack of any similarity in our formative experiences. I don’t know anything about your upbringing but from my experience and I have had a lots of different ones you know, I doubt that you could have any idea what it is like to have nowhere to go, to never know safety or have any fckn idea what a ‘choice’ is; it is about survival when there is no-one who can take care of you. Do not take this personally, your beliefs are to blame not you and you can’t help your beliefs because you have not experienced how impossible it is to do what you expect people to do.

    Okay the payday lender thing. You say “Consider payday lending. It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst the central planner/lefty caste that payday lending is predatory and sinister and should be banned/regulated very very heavily.”

    I really don’t know who these central planner are; I have not been at all political until I went to uni and realised how much ignorance there is in the general community about human behaviour. From my reading I understand that some people had a huge fear of political socialism in the past. My father said, not sure how old I was but it made sense to me, that it was a stupid unrealistic fear because Australians would never put up with that sort of system. Why do you have so little faith in our population?

    You say “However, it is a reality (my obession with the real world emerges here) – Patrick why do you think you have the truth about the real world? Because you are a capitalist?

    You say ” payday lending exists because it provides a service that poor people need.” Crap, payday lenders exist because some people cannot think of a better way of making money. To set up a business that makes money from poor people is a shithouse thing to do. End of story. Don’t tell me that poor people need payday lenders. They need to understand how stupid and short sighted it is to use payday lenders; they need to understand the consequences of this ‘choice’.

    “- if you cap payday lending rates at 14% then people won’t offer payday lending and
    – if there is no payday lending then people will still need the money and will resort to their remaining options” Bullshit, what happened when there were no payday lenders? What did we poor people do then? I remember the good old days when there were only a few pawnbrokers available for desperadoes waiting for a hit and needing to sell something that would get us through the day.

    “- those remaining options are typically: (a) go without/miss the payment (often, rent or a utility bill), (b) sell assets, (c) wholly unregulated loan sharks, (d) theft and (e) default.” Bullshit, the real human options are that they will go talk to a social worker and get some help. Personally, I think unregulated loan sharks are preferable, they are honest and do not pretend to be doing good when they are simply being stupid uncreative money grubbing capitalists stealing from the poor and less able.

    And another true story from the poor side of town. My youngest son, he’s the most aspie but also probably the one with the highest IQ – you know I spent a year administering the real IQ tests for a neuropsychologist’s PhD and I fancy myself as a good judge of IQ but not intelligence – and he worked for a payday lender once.

    He was living with his sister so I didn’t see what it was doing to him until he got so depressed and dysfucntional that she wanted him out. It turns out that the boss had ‘made him rip-off people’ and he didn’t know what to do about it’. Adolescent boys don’t talk about feelings but hey what a stupid little shit he was, i hear lots of libertarians say, to get depressed because the boss said he wasn’t to offer people what the item was really worth just what the person would take.

    In other words the desperation of the individual was the critical factor is how much profit the pay-day lender made.

    Get over your fear of the central planners, we have the internet and facebook and will never be able to be forced to do anything again by a government. Just watch your side of politics get judged for their dishonesty on the internet over the next 5 years. It is fantastic that Campbell Newman is telling such self-serving lies about being able to afford disability insurance; just watch as we monitor his spending over the coming years. The man is on thin ice.

    The left are the least of our problems; they may have been scary to you for a while but it’s over, trust me, nobody down here on the bottom wants socialism; we never did; we want fairness and freedom from the facism of corporations, from the ugly stuff your job creators produce and the insidious mind and morals destroying advertising that your ideology has produced.

  29. Julie Thomas says:

    and go Wayne Swan. Also please note that I do not envy Gina Rhineheart one bit; all my children talk to me, send me great funny stuff on facebook and even read my rants and laugh. That’s worth so much more than her money and power.

    But poor stupid woman, how could she be otherwise given her awful upbringing?

    oops sorry off topic :)

  30. desipis says:


    the hubris required for someone to think that they can plan better for millions than those millions can independently choose for themselves.

    There’s a fair bit of science that supports the notion that humans are lousy at certain types of reasoning and lousy at reasoning in certain circumstances. It’s not hubristic to go from that to thinking that external influences on individual decisions can potentially be a positive thing. I also think its important to consider the morality and legality of creating or exploiting circumstances that result in poor reasoning by others.

    I think it takes far more hubris to believe that modern civilisation is possible without some form of central organisation to the establish social and physical infrastructure upon which freedom can flourish.

  31. john r walker says:

    Your thinking seems oddly familiar; Have you had training in a roughly tertiary level art school ?

    • Julie Thomas says:

      John I have been away doing real things today but Yes… I did some parts of a vis arts degree after dropping out of a PhD in psych. Are you saying you recognise my ideas as typical of educated art types or do you specifically recognise me? :)

      Were you in the class in which I made the postmodernist feminist lecturer cry? I never meant to do that; it appeared that I knew more about postmodernism than she did. You know what? She thought it was the truth!

      Now I’m worried lol.

      • john r walker says:

        I made the postmodernist feminist lecturer cry? I never meant to do that; it appeared that I knew more about postmodernism than she did. You know what? She thought it was the truth!

        Post-modernism was syntax without semantics to a tee.

        And do not worry, I have no qualifications. I even dropped out of high school because I just wanted to paint pictures from the age of seven. I am a modern, moderns left the academy in about 1863 – 1870.

  32. Peter Fox says:

    As a nation we are getting older. New medical discoveries mean that in the future we’ll be older still. This means that (for better or worse) those of us with disabilities will likely be living with them for longer and if our later lives are to be comfortable we need to get the financial aspects right.

    Fair enough, nobody really wants to pay for someone else’s problems and many people don’t want to face the fact that some pretty awful disabilities exist but as we get older the possibility of something nasty developing increases substantially for all of us so belonging to a ‘civilised’ society which cares about the disabled is in all our interests, not just those who need help right now. None of us knows what’s around the corner; it isn’t always just “the other guy” who will suffer.

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