Thursday, November 29, 2007

Digging up the figures on government

Its time for some perspective people. We just got over an election full of hysteria, promises, vague rhetoric and fear tactics.

Not once during the election debates was there a balanced discussion on the wider issues;

  • what services should government provide?
  • what about the current level of taxation and the way it is raised ?
  • what about the current level of spending ?
  • what about the current number of government employees ?
  • what about the welfare system ?
I've done some digging around, and here are some figures that speak for themselves and will make these questions seem all the more pressing.
From the ATO 2006 annual report:
  • "We make $7.5 billion in transfers and payments to the community "
  • "At 30 June 2006, we employed 21,511 full time equivalent employees in offices all around Australia"
  • Our operating budget expenditure for 2005-06 was $2,533.2 million
  • Net tax collections increased to $232.6 billion which was $17.8 billion (8.3%) more than last year
From the Centrelink website:
  • Its recurrent budget is $2.3 billion
  • has 6.5 million customers, or approximately one-third of the Australian population ( !!! )
  • employs more than 25 000 staff
  • has more than 1 000 service delivery points ranging from large Customer Service Centres to small visiting services
  • has reduced the number of letters sent to our customers from more than 87 million (in 2004-2005) to 86.4 million per year (in 2005-2006)
  • receives more than 30.77 million telephone calls each year
  • grants more than 2.8 million new claims each year.
Department of Education, Science and Training annual report.
  • Expenses administered on behalof the government increased by three per cent from $18.755 billion in 2005-06 to $19.261 billion in 2006-07.
  • Total price of departmental expenses: $507.8 million
  • Average staffing level:
Department of Health and Ageing annual report:
  • Total Departmental Appropriations: $799.528 million
  • Total Administered: $45.7 billion

Senator Nick Minchin pointed out the following bit of information, which the media aren't the slightest bit interested in:
“At last count, Mr Rudd had announced 96 reviews and inquiries and 67 new government Departments, committees and task forces.
Have I made the situation perfectly clear ?

The real goals of the welfare state

John Edwards is one of the leading presidential candidates running for the Democrats in America. He is considered your typical progressive, or left-wing social democrat, and he clearly articulates EXACTLY what is intended by expanding the government provision of public health services.

“I’m mandating healthcare for every man woman and child in America and that’s the only way to have real universal healthcare.”

“Evertime you go into contact with the healthcare system or the govenment you will be signed up.”

During a press avail following the event Edwards reiterated his mandate:

“Basically every time they come into contact with either the healthcare system or the government, whether it’s payment of taxes, school, going to the library, whatever it is they will be signed up.”

When asked by a reporter if an individual decided they didn’t want healthcare Edwards quickly responded, “You don’t get that choice.”

There you have it people. PLEASE STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT. Socialised medicine isn't about helping the poor, as much as it is about creating a one-size-fits-all system where the individual has no say or no vote in what kind of services they can receive.

Capitalism is nice and simple ... it doesn't have a feel-good vibe to it, and it sound somewhat selfish, but here it is nonetheless ... you vote with your dollars, and the competitive providers will crawl over each other to provide you what you need in exchange for them.

Having a socialised system means that your dollars will have no say, and you cannot vote or communicate with them. It means that health and education become massive bureaucracies that ration out limited amounts of services, and allow people to die whilst on waiting lists and children to receive a sub-standard education (and to add insult to injury, poor parents MUST send their children to a school, no matter how bad).

I've always said that I would love nothing more than to wave my magic wand and have an army of skilled teachers, nurses, policemen appear and provide minimum health and education services, especially to look after the poor and disadvantaged.

But nobody, no economy on the planet, no leader or super-computer, can allocate these resources at zero cost, with no trade-off.

That is economics in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Liberals become even less liberal

In today's Australian, the candidates for the new leadership position in the Liberal Party are planning a future course which shows the Liberal Party entirely abandoning its manifesto and policy platform, and steering towards a vague, social welfare and interventionist set of policies. With each day, the LDP becomes the only remotely *liberal* party functioning in the Australian political landscape.

Mr Turnbull, who failed in a bid to convince federal cabinet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, said yesterday that Kevin Rudd had a mandate to do so.

"I don't think anybody can reasonably oppose that. He has clearly got a mandate to do that - that's fine, that's done, it's an important symbolic act," Mr Turnbull said.

Now the Liberal Party is no different to the Greens when it comes to supporting free market solutions. The Liberal Party clearly believe more rules and regulations, and a crippling intervention into the energy industry is needed and that a government department should be established to implement these draconian measures.

Dr Nelson said yesterday he was the right man to take the party forward and foreshadowed a rise in the importance of social welfare, "relative to economic rationalism".

"(It will be a balance) not only of economic but also human and social objectives for our country," Dr Nelson said.

"What I will be offering ... is an alternative which is the right balance of experience and stability but also care, commitment, conviction and vision, not only for economic but also human and social objectives for our country."

Social objectives are whatever our elites tell us they are.. like more welfare, or baby bonuses, or free injecting rooms or who knows whats next. This idea allows government to redefine its role, its scope and its size whenever they sniff an opportunity for good PR. Who knows what will be regulated next - fast food ? Sports ? Alcohol ?
Some Coalition MPs are even pushing for the party to concede the Work Choices reforms went too far.
Yet none will contend that it doesn't go far enough. Nobody even proposes that government has no business interfering with workplaces in a free and prosperous society.

Sigh ........

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie reviews

Thanks to Qantas and Air France, I can post a heap of movie reviews:

Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer - predictable action flick, at least it has Jessica Alba - 5/10

License to Wed - not very funny for a comedy - 4/10

Transformers - would be great with surround sound a big screen - 6/10

Knocked Up - some funny characters, but has a disturbing and gross birth scene - 6/10

Evan Almighty - Steve Carrell is the least funny he has ever been. This is kiddy Disney comedy - 4/10

Hot Rod - What a crack up ! A stupid stunt-man acting like an ass - 8/10

1408 - Scary horror/thriller type, John Cusack is pretty cool in this - 7/10

Back from holidays

I'm back from Europe, where I discovered that the French love to go on strike for extended periods that inconvenience millions of travellers.

Anyway, blogging will resume now. I'm disappointed in the election result, my dreams of the LDP scoring a few victories and bigger publicity have been dashed, and the nightmare scenario of the ALP regulating our workplaces and introducing thousands of pages of environmental regulations is soon to come about.

Whats the silver lining in all of this ? Perhaps the Liberal party can actually rebuild themselves as a *LIBERAL* party for the next election. Maybe Kevin Rudd can really shake up the ALP and try to maintain a centrist position, infuriating the unionists amongst their ranks. And of course, just like Germany and New Zealand, by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is about to learn how it just doesn't work out. It will not be many years before those who voted ALP at this election will see some broken promises and dashed hopes, no matter how skilled or adept Rudd is.

He's been campaigning for months on catchy slogans like "fresh thinking", "new leadership" and "governing for all Australians". Now its time for a dose of reality.

Friday, November 23, 2007

If you are not a thug, vote for LDP

The media is still running with the general theme of "whose face do you prefer more ? Johnny or Kevin" which makes my skin crawl. It really re-emphasises the cynical notion that elections are where you vote for the person you hate the least.

But in 2007, tomorrow is your first chance to vote for freedom. In every single state in Australia, the LDP are listed on the senate ballot papers.

The major parties, Labor, Liberal, Greens, Family First and Democrats, are all authoritarian thugs who make promises on how they will spend your taxes.

They also make promises about new laws, regulations, quotas, police powers, surveillance, environment regulations and yet more legislation. These in themselves can often be seen for what they are - nanny state bullying and telling other people what to do.

But the concept of spending the current level (or more) of taxes is nothing less than a brutal and thuggish mentality because taxes are *not* voluntary.

If you like the benign, positive and egalitarian sound of some policies, like "greater health spending" or "more school teachers" or "free dental care for teenagers", then you can simply vote for the major parties who campaign on it. Whether more government spending will actually deliver better results in these areas is very doubtful (please look at the last decade as government spending has skyrocketed). But more importantly ...

You didn't ask your neighbour if they want to spend more money on teenage dental care, or baby bonuses, or family tax credits. You never asked another person for permission on how to spend their money.

Instead, you will be voting for a party that uses force to extract taxes and freedoms from people. There is no way to avoid this cruel fact.

I'd love to see a magic wand waved and more teachers for schools appear instantly. But do you have the guts, the aggression or the violent mindset to force other taxpayers to pay for your preferences ?

Put this aside, and vote LDP in the senate !