Friday, March 03, 2006

Government is like a $5000 toaster

I've heard from many people, mainly females, that we oughtta just give up our taxes without a fight coz government "helps". I've been told we have to help out the poor, homeless, needy, students, women, mothers, handicapped etc.

My first response is... we can help in better ways, than by giving taxes to bureaucrats in Canberra to spend... and the defence against that is usually "but it helps, and if we didn't have government there will be some people who won't donate".

If you believe this, than I'll sell you a toaster for $5000.

You see, a toaster helps. Everyone has one. They are undoubtedly useful.
So I'll build a gold-plated, hand-crafted rolls royce of toasters and sell it for $5000. Will there be any takers ?

Of course not, its a damn rip-off !

But what about those people who told me that it doesn't matter what the cost is? Why aren't they now telling me the same thing ? If I extrapolate their values, then they should be able to say that its important to have a toaster no matter what the price, because it is useful and does some good.

You see, people are mostly rational. Resources (savings) are limited and hard to come by. People are not willing to sacrifice many months of earnings for the technology to toast slices of bread. Especially when there are $10 toasters available. If there are more efficient ways of obtaining the same benefit, then rational people will go for it.

People who talk about government welfare/aid as helping out are what I call "feel good" types. They are either too lazy to spend the money themselves on programs or charities that they value and are happier to just surrender their taxes. Or.. they consider themselves and the politicians they vote for as elite members of society, able to decide whats best for all of us and where all of our money should go.

But .. not one of them would buy a $5000 toaster. Why don't they put their money where their mouth is with my inefficient toaster, but they are willing to give up money to others to spend?

I guess they just didn't think things through. Its a contradiction, called Doublethink.

By the way, in 2003-2004, the Australian government blew a whopping $5 billion dollars on culture and "the arts" ? Happy with that ? Good, now get back to work.