Generation Y cop a pretty bad reputation as being completely self absorbed and without any understanding of self sacrifice, prepare to see this stereotype thrown out the window for the next 72 hours as the 2009 federal budget launches the biggest wave of bitching, moaning and baseless self pity seen since the Collingwood cheer squad were interviewed for the Footy Record.
This year’s budget is going to be disappointing for lots of Australians who have spent the past few years being conditioned to think that the federal budget is all about what new handout they will be receiving. During the mining boom, Peter Costello as Treasurer was lucky enough to receive enormous revenue from corporate taxation, which he then used as an electoral tool to bribe voters with handouts and tax cuts. The result of this as that our tax mix is heavily reliant on corporate tax receipts, which is fine during a booming global economy, but suicidal in the long term as the economic cycle inevitably turns, leaving a huge revenue shortfall.
The deficit budget that will be handed down tonight is due to the revenue shortfall caused by an over reliance on corporate taxation. We are all about to have to take our medicine for the unsustainable tax cuts that Howard and Costello used to win voters’ favour since the turn of the century. Naturally, the opposition will attempt to lay this disaster at the feet of the Government, and a lot of people will fall for it.
There have already been plenty of hints as to how this budget will play out, but the coverage of the it will inevitably focus heavily on people who regard themselves as being hard done by. Here is my list of predictions of people who will squeal the loudest about the budget, and why they should shut their whinging pie holes.
Self funded retirees. This is such a stupid and inaccurate phrase, the Howard government bent over backwards to keep the grey vote locked in and in doing so pretty much extended every benefit designed to keep pensioners out of poverty, like health care cards and other services, to people who were ineligible for the pension, but were over retirement age. In addition to this, these people were gifted enormous amounts of money through foolishly generous superannuation policies and by the debasement of the capital gains tax system.
As the baby boomers race towards retirement this mess needs to be unwound, it is unaffordable and unsustainable. Expect to hear this group claim that unless they are heavily subsidised by the government they will spend every cent they have and live off the pension, thereby forcing the rest of us to pick up the tab. So much for being self-funded. The reality is that most of these people would sell their own children rather than live on the aged pension and will simply whittle away their kids inheritance to support their lifestyles. Boom times for reverse mortgage providers.
High income earners. Another group who were trained to suckle at the government teat during the Howard years. One of Howard’s most socially regressive feats was instilling in people a sense of downward envy, demonising welfare recipients as being unworthy of government assistance, and then quelling the disharmony he’d created by handing out cash to people who didn’t need it. Policies like the Baby Bonus and the Private Health Insurance Rebate scheme should have been means tested from day one, because one of the basic tenets of the welfare system is that you only provide assistance to people actually need it.
High income earners, like talk-back radio hosts, op-ed writers for our major newspapers, and their friends, will be especially critical of any means testing, claiming that it is ‘unfair’. The reality is that everyone loves getting something for nothing, and free money is the pinnacle of that principle. Expect to hear this group claim that the changes are a disincentive to hard work and that their tax contributions entitle them to some government largesse, while their accountants desperately search for new ways to reduce their tax liability.
Businesses whose business model is leeching off taxpayers. The private health insurance industry is the first that springs to mind, but there will no doubt be plenty of other businesses whose profits are largely derived from providing services to the government who will foreshadow thousands of job losses, should their place at the trough be threatened. The reality is that if there is a genuine market for their products, then they will survive. Government interference distorts the market and usually ends up with all sorts of perverse unintended consequences, reducing these effects is a good thing.
People without children. Apparently people without children do not use any government services at all and are subsidising us breeders. Fuck off. Sleep in on a Sunday, go to a movie with your partner after dinner and hope like hell that the rest of us pop out enough kids to pay for your health care bills when you get old.
There will no doubt be others crying out this year, and the opposition will be full of sympathy for them as this will be their first real chance at drumming up some resentment towards the government. But the reality is that the massive budgets we came to expect for the last decade were underpinned by the same assumptions that have bought the commercial world to its knees in the past year, the boom could not go on forever, we could not keep deferring the cost of government spending and it is now time to face the consequences of our reckless actions during the good times.