Exploding the “economic manager” myth

If “economic management” is a key factor in the election campaign, then I’m hoping someone manages to finally explode this myth that the Howard government is a good economic manager.

Yes, unemployment is low. Yes, interest rates have been low. Yes, there’s been a mining boom. But after (supposedly) 11 boom years under the Truthful Rodent, what have we got to show for it apart from huge credit card balances and a series of “emergencies”? What have we actually built for the future, as opposed to aspired to do?

At The Road to Surfdom, Ken L hopes that Labor won’t try to cobble together a match to the Coalition’s tax cuts for the rich.

The Howard Government has done many a disservice to the long-term interests of this country and one of the most damaging has been its obsession with short-termism. For Howard, tax revenue is mainly useful as a means of staying in power through judicious bribes. Sometimes these take the form of direct cash inducements like the baby bonus. Others take all sorts of forms: funding for a Tasmanian hospital, funding chaplains for schools, buying water rights from farmers and so on. They have one thing in common: they do not form part of any wider vision for the future of Australia. Every one is an expedient measure taken by Howard to buy votes.

After 11 years of this opportunistic, incoherent government, we have yet another election campaign in which Howard will try to blind the population to the awful state of public services by flying into the sun and scattering money. Incredibly, and no matter how often it is pointed out to them, large numbers of people will not understand that the cash being thrown in their direction is actually theirs, and that if the government has nothing better to do with it than give it back then why the fuck did it confiscate it in the first place??? But this rude analysis is apparently too sophisticated for Liberal supporters.

Howard and Costello’s smug complacency about how great Teh Economy is and how it’s just gonna keep going forever if only we don’t lose our nerve sits oddly beside the evidence we see every day of the collapse of basic government services. The family that died when their car fell into a hole in the road, for example, might not have agreed that the best thing to do with tax revenue was to hand it back as a bribe to vote Liberal. They might have pointed to the claim by the NSW Local Government Association that “Local councils do not have the money to maintain all of the roads that have now become their responsibility”.

I saw somewhere that the “unexpected” surplus is the equivalent of $10,000 for every voter. I don’t know that I want my ten grand going to fund tax cuts for the infestation of Macquarie Bank executives or a baby bonus to some breeder in Kellyville.

2 Replies to “Exploding the “economic manager” myth”

  1. @Eric TF Bat: Oh dear, more reading to add to my already overloaded reading list! Just be thankful that I’m not working on the election full time! 😉

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