Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Bureaucratic Butchery Begins

From Catallaxy Files comes this post, which is derived from a list of allegedly "last minute" things that Joe Hockey threw in for axing after the Coalition took power. The author of this list allegedly prefixes the list with:

What Hockey didn’t tell us …Fine print of last minute costings announced with no debate – does Abbott have a mandate for these? 

For full details, follow the link to the Cat. Lefty heads are allegedly exploding everywhere, treating all of this as undiscussed matters with no mandate and the sharpest, harshest cutters at Catallaxy Files say yay, let's do all of this and then some. Let's have a look at it.

• Lower the tax-free threshold from $18,200 back to $6000.
• Abolish the low-income superannuation contribution.
• Abolish the means test on the Private Health Care Rebate
• Scrap baby bonus and relax childcare staffing ratios to fund $75,000 paid leave for mothers earning $150,000
• Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

 Point one struck me as a straight-out vote-buying exercise. $6000 is arguably too low, but $18,200 is a very odd figure. Why not $18,000? Is there a certain category of worker who would fall just under this level, whose vote would be valuable to the ALP? I'd happily support a value closer to $12k.

Superannuation is a controversial matter. It is, according to the Cat's hyperlibertarians, "enforced savings", which come out of one's pay packet in the first place - they would prefer the individual to have that money to decide for themselves what to do with it, invest, bank or spend as they see fit. Their money, their responsibility, and super treats people like children. I am of two minds. I would not at all mind super being treated either as an opt-in or opt-out thing.

As far as the baby bonus is concerned, I abhor it. It is easy to "game", to keep on having kids and use the money for something else. I would like to see it scrapped and replaced by a fixed offset against the taxes of working members of the new baby's household. IOW you don't get it if you're getting serially pregnant to a series of deadbeat revolving-door fathers.

As far as paid parental leave is concerned, it applies to ALL parents, not just the rich. The list author appears to have conveniently forgotten this, and phrased the point in class-war terms. Disingenuous at best, inflammatory and deliberately misleading (i.e. LYING) at worst.

• Repeal the mining tax
• Abolish the Australian Consumer & Competition Commission
• Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB)
• Remove anti-dumping laws

 The list author treats big business as evil? Fine, let's wave our magic wands, abolish "big business" tomorrow... and see how many poor people that puts out of work. And just where does she draw the line and call a business "big"?

The mining tax, as introduced by Kevin Rudd, is a joke - it has brought in next to no revenue and has only generated administrative costs. It deserves to be scrapped. The ACCC and FIRB need to be kept, in my opinion, and as for the anti-dumping laws, we'll get to those in due course.

• Abolish the means-tested school kids bonus which benefits 1.3 million families by up to $410 per primary child & $820 per high school child.
• Abandon the bulk of the school funding reforms
• Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
• Remove academic freedom through political control of research grants

 The schoolkids bonus is another vote-buying exercise, besides which, nobody can prove that the money is being spent on clothes and equipment for the kids rather than indulgent stuff for the parents. Give it to the schools and have the schools issue the kids with the equipment directly from stock. The school funding "reforms" do nothing to address the deep problems, which are inadequate discipline and poor teaching methods, and an underclass that couldn't really give a fuck about its children's education.

University student unions did not represent me or my interests when I was at university, and I should not be obliged to belong to one or pay it money if this is the case. This is a simple matter of freedom of association.

As far as "academic freedom" is concerned, what rubbish. Much of the "political control" in this case seems to be the pulling of lazy, greedy snouts from the trough of "humanities" research. No wonder the list author is whining - she's about to see her unproductive career defunded. I expect my tax dollars to fund research into things like medicine, mining and agriculture, not philosophical navel-gazing.

• Repeal Fair Work Act, restore individual agreements
• Cut at least 50,000 public service jobs
• End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
• Cease subsidising the car industry.

 The Fair Work Act was deliberately designed to spit in John Howard's face and guarantee increased union presence in the workplace, and deserves destruction. An individual should have the right to negotiate their own legally binding conditions with their employer if they so desire. I can't speak to the Industry Super Funds, but the car industry has soaked up huge amounts of money out of all proportion to any good that money has done. I can see a point for an industrial nation like Australia retaining the ability to build its own automobiles, but we are on a slippery slope of diminishing returns and  the ALP practice of simply shovelling money into a bottomless pit only for jobs to keep on disappearing has to be addressed... severely.

• Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
• Abolish the Department Of Climate Change
• Repeal the renewable energy target and withdraw from kyoto ppotocol
• Repeal the marine park legislation
• Encourage the construction of dams

 The only viable clean energies are either hydro or nuclear. If you want 24/7 baseline without fossil fuels, this is how you have to go in Australia. That means dams (the animus against dams is straight out of the Greens playbook). We've had floods in Gippsland several years running now; the damage this does every year would easily pay for one, and it would have been far better than the useless desalination plant that was built because the scary Green claims of no more rain were forced down the government's throat. The renewable energy target is unrealistic with current technology, and repeal is the only sensible thing.

Solar and wind are not up to scratch on a large scale, so the Clean Energy Fund is worthless and needs to go - if a viable renewable technology is developed, it will pay for itself without requiring bucketloads of government money. The Kyoto protocol is meaningless - a dead issue - and withdrawing from it is the only sensible thing to do.

• End mandatory disclosures on political donations
• End public funding support for political parties (allowing rich an advertising monopoly)
• Abolish media bias regulations
• Introduce voluntary voting

 The second dot-point is pure class-envy politics, subjective and hateful. I think there's a point to be made for obliging political parties to say where their funding is coming from; it's one of the few things I agree with the list author about. The list author needs to acknowledge that the lion's share of public funding support goes into the pockets of the Liberal, National, Labor and Greens parties, and is paid after the fact based on voting performance at the election just concluded - another example of their disingenous/dishonest approach.

The reason the large parties have the advertising funds they do before the fact is because of MEMBERSHIP DUES - if your policies do not attract sufficient support, why should the taxpayer cough up for you?

 Media bias? Fairfax and the ABC were shilling so hard for ALP/Greens it wasn't funny; Murdoch, with 30% ownership, was getting 70% of circulation because Fairfax and the ABC were turning out propagandist bullshit that nobody wanted to read. For media bias, read "They were saying bad things about our side!"

As for voluntary voting, I absolutely agree with this worthless cretin for once. You live in a democracy, you make the fucking effort or you can get out.
• Halt and privatise the National Broadband Network
• Abolish the Australian Communications And Media Authority
• Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function.
• Abolish TV spectrum licensing
• Abolish local content requirements
• Deregulate the parallel importation of books, thus damaging our local authors and publishers.

 The NBN's business model was flawed from the start, its budget has blown out to obscene proportions in relation to what has been achieved (very little), and it has had to go so far as to rip up the entirely reliable copper network, taking people's ordinary telephones away from them with no choice in the matter. It needs to be gutted and reformed on the basis of a viable business model, with fibre to the node, and the bandwidth leased to the various content providers. There must be a careful independent inspection of the existing hardware to ensure that a filter has not been hardwired in at some point. Anyone who wants a connection to their home can pay for the last few feet themselves. If they can't afford it, copper is coming along nicely with new data-pushing algorithms.

The ACMA can stay, as far as I am concerned.

The ABC must be gutted, reduced to one television station and Radio National, and ordered not to compete with the commercial networks but to go back to providing niche services.

Some management of the TV spectrum does need to occur, but only insofar as sensible allocation of available bandwidth and frequencies is concerned (to avoid interference).

Local content needs to compete on an equal footing with overseas. If an Australian author isn't good enough, they don't get sales. If they're good enough, they'll outsell the competition. It's that simple. In any case, parallel imports are often cheaper, with the result that the poor (the people the List Author seems to care about) are better able to afford books. Is this not a good thing? The same thing goes for local TV content.

• End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
• Repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
• End all government funded public interest (‘Nanny state’) advertising

 Yes, yes, and maybe. If you're a good enough athlete, there should be no problem with getting an equipment manufacturer to fund you. If you've got something insulting to say, you should have the right to say it without someone hauling you into court - especially if it turns out to be true. (The people who blew up an eleven year old boy in Boston, crashed three airplanes into buildings, recruited Down syndrome people and rape victims as suicide bombers and cut little girls' clitorises off don't exactly identify as Buddhist, do they?)

When I was a kid, the road transport authority - whatever it was called - in my home state used to publish short commercials that gave handy hints for things like night driving (e.g. high-beam etiquette) and lesser-known road rules that would avoid accidents. I think this sort of thing is worthwhile.

• Privatise the CSIRO
• Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport.
• Privatise Medibank.
• Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
• Privatise Australia Post
• Privatise SBS.
• Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction.

 Quite aside from the fact that someone - either the Cat or the list author - can't organise their spelling consistently, I have to wonder about "privatise Medibank". Doesn't the list author mean Medicare? Something's fishy here, and I share the Cat's suspicion that this list of proposed cuts contains a lot of false claims and bullshit.

My opinion? No (government must support some level of basic research), Yes (if the athletes are that good - and Australia punches well above its weight - private funding should flow freely), No (if Medicare is meant), No (state-constructed power generation assets should remain in state hands IMO; they are a national security issue); ABSOLUTELY NOT (the post is likewise a National Security asset); maybe (make SBS a subset of the ABC); Yes (it does the country no good to add law upon law in a certain area; you end up tying yourself in knots, and it's sometimes better to tear it all down and rewrite from the ground up, especially if the older legislation is so archaic it can't react to changed circumstances).

• Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
• Repeal the Alcopops tax.
• Repeal plain cigarette packaging, rule it out on alcohol, fast foods etc
• Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labeling

Maybe, yes, yes, maybe. I think there are some aspects of preventative health that could be managed at a national level, but this is surely a matter for a person's general practitioner. The alcopops tax was and is intrusive nanny-statism, as is plain packaging. IMPULSE CONTROL, PEOPLE. And as for food and alcohol labelling, just what labelling does the List Author want?

There are a very few matters on which I find myself disagreeing with the Libertarians. I think the list author is finding the sweeping away of her vested interests very discomfiting. Good. After six years of mismanagement and three hundred billion dollars' worth of fiscal rape by the left, the nation cannot afford much of what this stupid twit would like to retain. Let it burn.

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