Wrong way – go back

Most Australian freeway exit ramps have a sign directed at drivers who enter the exit ramp by mistake into the oncoming high speed traffic – “Wrong way – go back”. It’s not a bad warning. It is written in very large white text on a red background. Hard to miss, I suspect, even for the myopic drivers among us who presumably make this mistake from time to time.

I’d like to take those “Wrong way – go back” signs and use them in other parts of Australian life. In particular, the community needs to be warned that the suffocating policies of Governments, mostly of the left-of-centre type, to get involved in virtually every aspect of our lives right down to the most mundane, represents the wrong way. I don’t claim credit for the originality of the saying but it rings true – the left (or liberals in the US sense) have switched their efforts – they are no longer attempting to nationalise industries but instead are full steam ahead at nationalising the family.

The Government publication “A guide to Australian Government Payments” runs to 44 pages. It lists the payments that Australians may be eligible for in certain circumstances and it makes depressing reading for anyone who believes that smaller government is preferable to larger government and that individuals, through the established mechanism of the family unit, should be responsible for their own lives. There is a legitimate role in our society for some transfer payments to support those in real need of support, such as the sick and the elderly. But when the system of government payments extends to helping pay telephone bills and home energy costs it is clearly going the wrong way.

The range and nature of payments is staggering. Take the family tax benefit, for example. It has two parts, A and B, it varies with income, the number and ages of children in the family, with compliance with prescribed health checks, it is supplemented for new-born babies, more so for multiple births, and by how much the house rent is and so on. After working your way through that, then consider the Schoolkids bonus, Paid Parental Leave scheme, Stillborn baby payment, Dad and Partner Pay, the Baby Bonus, Child Care benefits, Child Care rebates, Parenting payments, Double Orphan pensions. (Seemingly the definition of ‘orphan’ has been amended from what it used to be and the prefix ‘double’ is now needed.) I’m not kidding, these are all real Government payments funded by the general taxpayer and administered by an army of civil servants.

By this stage, we have only worked through one-quarter of the guide’s pages, so yes, there’s more. When we get to the older ages, there are the age pension, pension supplement, bereavement allowance, mobility allowance, carer payments, carer allowances (somehow different from carer payments) and carer supplements (different from both carer payments and carer allowances.) Pensioners may also get concession cards, supplements and allowances, not otherwise covered by the above payments, allowances and supplements. There is the Income Support Bonus which is “made twice annually to eligible recipients to assist with unexpected costs”. I’d quite like one of those; who wouldn’t. But how have we allowed this level of involvement of the State in our lives?

I could go on. We haven’t explained the myriad of payments for study assistance, including the Pensioner Education Supplement. There would be a good test case for establishing return on investment. I’m all for pensioners learning new stuff, but I don’t think I should be responsible for paying for it.

There are allowances, special benefits, supplements, supplemented supplements left, right and centre. Like I say, depressing stuff.

At the 2012 US presidential election campaign, the Democrats promoted the Obama administration in an animated on-line feature about the life of Julia – how the Obama administration made more payments to US citizens than the Republicans would. It is the policy and desire of the left to make the citizenry dependent on the State – that entrenches the State’s power. That was the stated reason behind the Bismarck decision in 19th century Germany to introduce the world’s first old-age pension scheme paid from taxes. Bismarck wanted a compliant citizenry.

For any society that values freedom, self-reliance, reward for effort and rising living standards, the Guide to Australian Government payments represents the Wrong Way.