When the Money Runs Out – the government’s guide to policy

Simultaneously reading today’s papers on the Commission of Audit report and the Economist and The Financial Times 2013 book of the year, Stephen D. King’s When the Money Runs Out: the End of Western Affluence, I can see what the latest fashion in economic policy has become. Here I heave a sigh of despair. This from page 54 sums it up:

With poorly performing asset markets and much lower prospective economic growth, our entitlements are about to take a hammering. On current plans, only wishful thinking on economic growth stops government debt from spiralling out of control in the decades ahead. If the wishful thinking proves to be wrong, we will be in serious trouble.

And if you doubt that the wise heads of Treasury and the Government have not been reading this book, this is how it is described by the publisher:

It’s not just the end of an age of affluence, he shows. We have made promises to ourselves that are achievable only through ongoing economic expansion. The future benefits we expect—pensions, healthcare, and social security, for example—may be larger than tomorrow’s resources. And if we reach that point, which promises will be broken and who will lose out? The lessons of history offer compelling evidence that political and social upheaval are often born of economic stagnation. King addresses these lessons with a multifaceted plan that involves painful—but necessary—steps toward a stable and just economic future.

And so here we are.

I am the last person in the world to argue that wasteful and unproductive spending can go on forever. Cut waste. Live within your means. Do what is required to cut non-value-adding expenditure. But this book is half the story of what needs doing or possibly even less, just as the Commission of Audit doesn’t to my mind get there either. So far I have not come across a single sentence in the book that indicates the importance of the “private sector”, “the role of business” or “entrepreneurial activity”. The words don’t show up in the index and nothing in the contents goes anywhere near these issues. It is all about government policy, the financial system, the level of entitlements and containing outlays on entitlements. Nothing about what is needed for growth, and as the subtitle suggests, “The End of Affluence”, is entirely pessimistic about our economic possibilities.

And if you follow the guidelines found in the book, you would have to agree. We can no longer afford our way of life, our living standards must contract and therefore the only thing governments can do is cut various entitlement programs but strangely leave public sector infrastructure spending more or less as it is. No discussion of cuts to public waste, those useless money-losing operations that are everywhere absorbing our scarce savings for a negative return. If the real economy is discussed at any point along the way, I have not come across it. It’s all money, finance and interest rates. Encouraging business investment, cost containment, reducing government regulation – of these there’s not a word.

You want growth, cut back on government take-up of resources. I love the headline on this story because of its cluelessness: UK AUSTERITY TO STAY DESPITE GROWTH PICK-UP. This is re-stated in the first para:

Austerity will remain the U.K. government’s mantra, Treasury chief George Osborne said Wednesday — even as he lauded the stronger than expected economic recovery.

What they are saying is that in spite of austerity, the economy is picking up. The people who write such stories think “austerity”, the name its enemies give to cutting back on public sector waste, is bad for the economy, and because of their Keynesian mindset can only be harmful. They have no idea that it is the austerity itself that has led to the higher than expected growth. They cannot even understand what possible connection there could be. Moreover, a return to a stronger economy is not a warrant for higher public spending. The lesson that ought to be learned and understood is that non-value-adding outlays slow an economy down. Reducing those outlays allow the economy to re-adjust towards faster growth. And already the Treasurer is talking about personal tax cuts in the lead-up to the next UK election. If only the same would happen here.

What’s the matter with our own economic managers in this country? If they really do want to take Australia down into some kind of American never-ending recession, then maintain or possibly even increase public sector outlays, raise taxes and do next nothing to encourage private sector growth. That way, the money most surely will run out but it didn’t have to be that way at all.

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74 Responses to When the Money Runs Out – the government’s guide to policy

  1. Sir Fred Lenin

    This government has to do what the Prudent Housewife would do,Cut the Spending,never mind the poor old pensioners,what about the Fat Cats? We give foreign aid ,borrowing money to give away! What about all these untidy nayshuns expensive Quangos? What about unis handing our money to Bludgers who produce Bugger All ,! What about bringing migrants to cause trouble and Bludge on Centrelink and grab subsidised housing,what about giving money to multinationals who Evade taxes?what about the money poured into the lawtrade to enrich Bull Artists? Give ANYONE with a BRAIN a few months running the country ,and ALL this facade of entitlement woul vanish forever,never to be seen again. My Dear Old Mum would have sorted this out in No time,mind you if she had been running things IT WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED!

  2. Sir Fred Lenin

    PS,the Wooden Spoon would have had a great workout! We could just Defund them All? Without money they would be irelevant,who would listen.

  3. Natural Instinct

    So far I have not come across a single sentence in the book that indicates the importance of the “private sector”, “the role of business” or “entrepreneurial activity”.

    With the current political class graduating mainly from policy advisors academies and union secretaries school, who knows about these things?
    Perhaps, an employment condition could be added that all Treasury staff candidates have to go off and do a private sector sabbatical for 3 years (located outsides of the ACT) before they can get promoted to Dep Sec level.
    .
    P.S. And do not tell me that you have “listened to business” or “have a good understanding of my electorates concerns” after attending a variety of lunches, dinners and conferences throughout the year. Not the same as the ‘daily grind’ for a year or two.

  4. H B Bear

    The most useful thing government can do is get out of the way. Unfortunately this is not a policy held by either of the major political parties.

  5. manalive

    In the hands of leftist economists and journalists ‘austerity’ has become a janus word (auto-antonym).
    Wartime austerity meant the government virtually taking over the economy and now the same word is used to describe the government withdrawing from the economy.
    The Left’s corruption of the language again.

  6. .

    You should have heard the bilge on ABC News Radio.

    Richardson and Shorten given free reign to lecture us all about the evils of cutting spending. The head of the teachers union telling us elections mean nothing compared to a promise Jay Weatherill had from Gillard.

    Sell it. Give it away. Divest. raze it to the ground. Fire them all. I don’t care.

    The ABC shouldn’t get another cent of taxpayer’s money to spread these lies typed up this morning by ALP HQ in Sussex Street.

  7. Driftforge

    The most useful thing government can do is get out of the way

    I don’t think this is quite right; generally a good thought, but overly simplistic.

    When should government get out of the way? When shouldn’t it?

    It’s not actually simple once you start to look at the various elements of government. The principles that I am heading towards are:

    1) that government should ‘stay in the way’ in the area that are to do with the maintenance of peace, order, law and freedom (and in that order).

    2) that government should ensure that markets are constructed such that they are not malformed (typically avoiding one sided contracts, and typically managing markets for monopoly rights). Here I’ll also comment that I’m not convinced that lawsuits are the best mechanism for managing third party damages; there may be a better system, and that system may well be the province of government.

    3) that areas in where the goal is societal cost minimisation are badly suited to exposure to the profit motive. There is a large degree of overlap here with 1), but not entirely. Also, items that don’t overlap may well be better performed by morally bound non-profit organisations such as churches rather than by the state.

    Other than those, government should stay out of the way.

  8. Kaboom

    Unfortunately, nothing is going to change absent a complete review of our electoral system.

    Governments (of whatever political colour) will always take the easy option – bribe the electorate with promises, to be paid for when the newly-elected (or re-elected) politician is well and truly retired.

    We are hair-breadth away from the tyranny of the majority, the Free Shit Army, which is increasing in size and power every electoral cycle, and these days it takes a truly deranged socialist government to be marginalised by popular vote.

    Abbott and company will bribe, Shorten and company will bribe more, and yes, the money will run out.

    Change is needed.

  9. .

    We are hair-breadth away from the tyranny of the majority, the Free Shit Army, which is increasing in size and power every electoral cycle, and these days it takes a truly deranged socialist government to be marginalised by popular vote.

    This is the way home, fellow travelers. Moving behind the scenes for a long game:

    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2014/04/29/day-1-of-a-broken-promise-there-will-be-no-new-taxes-under-a-government-i-lead/comment-page-2/#comment-1285439

    I call it the Dot Point Plan.

  10. Jeremy

    Kaboom,
    Do you mean restricting voting rights to private sector taxpayers?
    That might work. Why should those who don’t contribute to the pot get a say in sharing it out?

  11. dianeh

    The lesson that ought to learned and understood is that non-value-adding outlays slow an economy down. Reducing those outlays allow the economy to re-adjust towards faster growth.

    And clearly this lesson has not been learned.

  12. KaaBee

    I switched to Radio 774 this morning and caught Bill Shorten in the middle of a rant. I couldn’t take any more than a minute or so before it was back to our local classical music community radio station. Bliss.

  13. Kaboom

    Jeremy, I suspect that it would be unjust to disenfranchise PS “taxpayers”, even though we all know it is a zero-sum game.

    An equitable approach would be to assess a quantum of “votes” based upon the average of one’s last three years of personal tax returns. Someone who minimises their personal taxation would miss out on votes, as would someone who has not filed a return in that period.

    People who pay should have the say.

    Voting should not be compulsory in any so-called democracy.

  14. Driftforge

    Jeremy, I suspect that it would be unjust to disenfranchise PS “taxpayers”

    In the lower house, yes. In the upper house, no.

    One house for democratic representation.

    One house to limit the damages that democracy causes, in as many ways as is practical.

  15. Natural Instinct

    Jeremy#1288821, posted on May 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Do you mean restricting voting rights to private sector taxpayers? Why should those who don’t contribute to the pot get a say in sharing it out?

    Ideas like that started a revolution in the USA…
    NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
    Perhaps start a revolution in AUS….
    NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION
    And it could be extended to no vote until all of your HECS debt is paid off.
    .
    By the way that idea gets back to original Anglosphere democracy where only property owners got the vote, because they had skin in the game. And to welfare in the late 19th C and early 20th C where outgoings where determined by those that paid them to church, charities or benevolence societies.

  16. stackja

    If the ALP ever get back in to power the ALP will just print more money. Of course the Australia we know will be destroyed but the ALP does not like the Australia of today just look at the damage the ALP has done so far.

  17. Roger

    Reform of the right to vote makes good sense but those advocating it must realise that politically speaking it would be very hard to achieve. Abolishing compulsory voting is the much easier route towards a similar outcome.

  18. Sir Fred Lenin

    Abbots scorecard so farm
    1. Appointing stott despja and comrade combet back to the trough.
    2. Not scrapping giliards booby traps it leftm
    3. Not defunding alpbc.
    4 .being too matey with the alpgrois Scum.
    5. Lying about this new TAX ( like gilliard and the untidy nayshuns TAX ).
    No doubt more to come “trust me Im a lawyer politician” YEAH RIGHT!

  19. struth

    I’ve always thought that one good way to help people understand how the world works is to stop public servants paying tax. It is an unnecessary book keeping exercise as they don’t actually pay tax anyway. Would help with cash flow and help the buggers understand that all the pay they get comes from taxing private enterprise. A lot are quite deliriously thinking they contribute.

  20. entropy

    Not sure about that Struth. On the other hand paying tax helps to remind them how much loot is being taken.

  21. struth

    They’re paid what they would usually take home without the rest of the unnecessary bookwork. They do not pay tax anyway. A public servant lives off the taxes of private enterprise. Full stop. Maggie Thatcher was right when she said “governments don’t have money”etc.

  22. Kaboom

    Struth – you are quite correct.

    Just pay the fuckers a tax-adjusted wage. Let them be well aware that they prosper at our sufferance, ONLY because I wish to have my driver’s licence renewal processed efficiently, without having to pay a bribe. Everything else I can do on line…

  23. Michel Lasouris

    Your ABC this morning on NewsRadio (sic) One of your educationally sub-normal “reporter/commentators’ was interviewing some academic, and managed to tell us that the fiscal rot started with Costello/Howard and has been exacerbated by Abbott/ Hockey.
    I nearly choked….nary a mention of the six years of Socialist mismanagement. It’s as if it never happened. Yes, the ABC has to be strangled, especially as it sees fit to hire hugely expensive illuminated billboards near Mascot Airport to promote one of it’s programmes. It’s not as though they don’t already have the most expensive advertising medium to hand…itself

  24. H B Bear

    Michel – it was probably Saul Eslake, an ALPBC favourite. He gave them the ‘worse than it should be, but nowhere near crisis‘ quote that was on high rotation across the bloated ALPBC network.

    The ALPBC realise Peanut Head and his Clown Posse aren’t going to be able to do it by themselves.

  25. Anne

    Steve, why hasn’t this article been posted to the Catallaxy Twitter feed?

  26. Anne

    I don’t think those who earn their living from the state should vote, nor should they pay tax. It would then become very clear who is paying for all the waste!

  27. Anne

    …although I like the cut of your jib girl!

  28. Art Vandelay

    Austerity will remain the U.K. government’s mantra,

    Austerity? Last I looked, public sector spending in the UK was still 49% of GDP!

  29. johanna

    “Austerity” as defined in UK politics just means slowing down the rate of growth of government spending. In this surreal world, the way to improve the economy is to keep spending more than you earn, forever.

    Unless something dramatic happens, Europe and the UK will be about as influential as Portugal in ten years time.

  30. Des Deskperson

    ‘…they don’t actually pay tax anyway’

    It’s useful here to remember here that Public servants cost the taxpayer rather more than just their salaries. There’s the super contribution, the cost of accommodation, office heat, light and power, office furniture and fittings, IT support, ‘learning and development’, leave, travel, administrative support and various perquisites – which increase in both range and value with seniority.

    It’s been estimated that, as a result of these extra amounts, the cost of employing a Commonwealth public servant is 2.5 times their base salary. This means that an SES Band 1 on a base salary of $180,000 pa actually costs the taxpayer $450,000 pa.

    So there’s at least a case for actually requiring them to make a greater revenue contribution – either through tax or direct salary sacrifice – than the average punter.

  31. GK

    I can sum that the downfall of modern democracy will be attributed to the ongoing persistence of western societies trying to be “moralistically social” and in the process destroy all aspects of the economy that actually made it successful.

  32. Paridell

    It seems from the context that the third paragraph should begin:

    “And if you doubt that the wise heads of Treasury and the Government have been reading this book”…

    i.e., not “have not been reading”.

  33. Paridell

    “A lot are quite deliriously thinking they contribute.”

    Yes, struth, the Customs officers thought they were contributing. No doubt they were delirious in their belief.

    Non-delirious John Howard knew better and slashed their numbers, but for some reason reversed that policy later on. Something to do with a flood of illegal guns.

  34. Notafan

    Oh Des, wouldn’t at least some of those be just regular business expenses (in the real world)
    I have a daughter employed as a graduate in a private company who was sent overseas on business class to attend three days of induction training, more than once.

  35. cohenite

    The doom brigade which chants sustainability and the end due to limits of all things is pathetic.

    Money is a derivative of energy. The universe is wash with energy. Harness the Casimir effect and Zero Point Energy and burn progressives and greens at the stake.

  36. Andrew

    Wonder if anyone has asked Goose Swansteen for a comment. He spent three years sneering at the “far right” Tories and their austerity as a prelude to what would happen under Abbott 666.. Meanwhile, he copied the stimulus program of Spain – and at that end up working out? Perhaps we could send investigative reporter JC out on Twitter to interview him.

  37. sdfc

    Go hard, go early, go households, brilliant.

  38. Combine_Dave

    Does it count as ‘ go early’ when the pain lasts right up until the next election defeat?

    I admit it is brilliant. I am not sure how Shorten has managed to have LNP deliver all of the ALP’s wet dreams (including the taxation increases to properly fund it) before handing over to him, or more likely his successor Bowen, with the books all balanced ready for the next spendathon. Thanks Liberals.

  39. Combine_Dave

    Non-delirious John Howard knew better and slashed their numbers, but for some reason reversed that policy later on. Something to do with a flood of illegal guns.

    Society would have been better off had he left customs at those lower levels (and also if he hadn’t restricted legal gun ownership in the first place).

  40. sdfc

    I was talking about Ken Henry.

  41. Des Deskperson

    ‘Oh Des, wouldn’t at least some of those be just regular business expenses (in the real world’

    Indeed, and the private sector also has to pay to accommodate and support its workforce, and this has to be factored in one way or another into the cost of the goods and services they sell and which consumers can choose not to buy. My point is that it’s the taxpayer who has to pay the costs of employing public servants, whether they like it or not.

    I also believe that the costs of supporting an individual public servant is likely to be considerably greater than that of supporting his or her counterpart in the private sector, something that the Commission of Audit also seems to be on to (recommendation 7, second phase). In my experience, ‘corporate services’ (and ‘human resource management’ in particular) is by far the most bloated, wasteful and inefficient area of the public sector yet, unlike high profile or controversial programs, it never comes under any scrutiny, it just plods on getting bigger and slacker and the privatisation, for example, of payroll and IT in the nineties was only a blip!

  42. egg_

    I can sum that the downfall of modern democracy will be attributed to the ongoing persistence of western societies trying to be “moralistically social” and in the process destroy all aspects of the economy that actually made it successful.

    We’re just stuck with the B-teams on both sides of the House after the Kevin07 carnage.

  43. Notafan

    Des I have no doubt you are right.
    Some people were made redundant at my daughters work today, involuntary, no notice.
    Just wondering what assistance package the government was going to provide?

  44. Combine_Dave

    We’re just stuck with the B-teams on both sides of the House after the Kevin07 carnage.

    I suppose dusting off Howard and Costello is not an option?

  45. struth

    Maybe for some to understand I should say “financially” contribute.
    The fact remains……they do not pay the government tax . Note to all….I did not say we should have no public servants I was just making the point that is un arguable. The do not contribute money to the government. They are paid by private sector. The private sector is the only true taxpayer. Fact.

  46. Anne

    Note to all….I did not say we should have no public servants…

    I seriously believe we could function perfectly well with half the public service we have now, Struth.

    I’d so love to get in there with some pruning shears.

  47. Combine_Dave

    Des I have no doubt you are right.
    Some people were made redundant at my daughters work today, involuntary, no notice.
    Just wondering what assistance package the government was going to provide?

    I asked Tony A if he could gurantee your daughters job… but he said ‘No’.

    Also he mentioned a little matter of some new taxes, it’s okay you can take care of that later.

  48. duncanm

    Just wondering what assistance package the government was going to provide?

    Notafan – are you expecting something?

    That’s what our quite generous dismissal provisions are for.

  49. struth

    About half would be right Anne, but the right ones. The doctors and nurses and the actual service providers. Not the rest of the stinking bloated carcass tbat is killing Australia.

  50. Notafan

    I asked Tony Abbott if I could make a little joke about Holden but he said no.

    Can I just say how great it is to see the support for small business dealings with all the red tape, the insane rents Australian businesses have to pay, the built in 10 % price disadvantage, the too many days of not taking enough to pay the rent, the 80 hour weeks for the last nine years, I don’t think I have the stamina for internet forums.

  51. .

    sdfc
    #1289433, posted on May 2, 2014 at 9:09 pm
    Go hard, go early, go households, brilliant.

    Yes, and now years (5+) of retail and construction downturn and massive increases in hidden (and thus actual) unemployment.

    You knuckleheads, Swan, Henry and yourself.

  52. Tel

    Dot, presuming that a government is in the mood to print money and nothing will stop them, the question remains whether to dump that newly printed money broadly into the population (i.e. the “Six Pack” inflationist) or whether to hand large amounts of newly printed money to a small group of elite (i.e. the “Champaign” inflationist). Both results cause inflation, but I’m in agreement with Steve Keen that the former does less overall damage. Hint: the Cantillon effect is reversed.

  53. Anne

    struth
    #1289530, posted on May 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm
    About half would be right Anne, but the right ones. The doctors and nurses and the actual service providers. Not the rest of the stinking bloated carcass tbat is killing Australia.

    Absolutely, Struth.

    I was thinking, pretty much everyone on Rabz’ list.

    Plus, it’s my life’s mission to get rid of councils!

  54. Des Deskperson

    ‘I seriously believe we could function perfectly well with half the public service we have now, Struth’

    Anne, the problem with the public sector is that it’s inherently inefficient because it has, for all practical purposes, no bottom line, there has always ben more taxpayers’ money. Decision making in the public sector always comes down not to what’s cheapest, but what’s easiest. If saving money is going to require hard work and tough decisions, then don’t save money.

    And, sadly, this has little to do with whether the particular public programme is important or essential. You mention doctors and nurses, but when the old repatriation hospitals were privatised in the nineties, it was found that the private providers could give the same level of service with much fewer staff. I think everyone who comments here would agree that Defence is an essential government role, but the management and administration of Defence is notoriously incompetent.

    This is the sad paradox of bureaucracy; the more essential its function, the more taxpayers’ money it can claim and the less efficient it will be.

  55. johanna

    Des, there are a few good guys (and gals) out there. Two of my proudest achievements are pulling an out-of-control IT project into line, and reducing regulation in a particular area to allow more competition.

    In the first instance, I just went over the invoices and discovered that they were multiple-charging for the same thing. I also found that they were charging for things that they never did. I cut their payments by a third in one year just by doing that. I lopped off another 10% because they were not meeting benchmarks. I know nothing about IT, but I know bill-padding when I see it.

    In the other case (which I can’t be specific about thanks to the Crimes Act), I removed red tape from hundreds of tiny companies, and also opened a government contract up to more competition. The lobbying against these measures (from NGOs) was ferocious, to the point of having MPs and Senators getting up and regurgitating their talking points.

    I won, both times. But it didn’t do my career much good. The Powers That Be saw me as Donna Quixote, tilting at windmills and making a nuisance of myself.

  56. .

    Tel
    #1289568, posted on May 2, 2014 at 11:47 pm
    Dot, presuming that a government is in the mood to print money and nothing will stop them, the question remains whether to dump that newly printed money broadly into the population (i.e. the “Six Pack” inflationist) or whether to hand large amounts of newly printed money to a small group of elite (i.e. the “Champaign” inflationist). Both results cause inflation, but I’m in agreement with Steve Keen that the former does less overall damage. Hint: the Cantillon effect is reversed.

    Helicopter Ben!

    Yes, the handouts were in the short term relatively benign (but costly nevertheless), infrastructure project were massively wasteful to the point of being useful plus the cost of demolition.

  57. Des Deskperson

    Johanna, good on you and well done!

    But you do understand that if, instead of tackling and solving difficult, sensitive and complex problems, you had turned your energies to organising a conference at which your agency head got to showcase him/herself, you would not only have received a performance bonus, you would have received an Australia Day medal, the PSM and been promoted.

  58. sdfc

    Yes, and now years (5+) of retail and construction downturn and massive increases in hidden (and thus actual) unemployment.

    The credit boom is over, welcome to the hangover.

  59. Paridell

    Society would have been better off had he left customs at those lower levels (and also if he hadn’t restricted legal gun ownership in the first place).

    Crippled border security and an ever-increasing criminal arsenal… just the ticket!

  60. sdfc

    Yes, the handouts were in the short term relatively benign (but costly nevertheless), infrastructure project were massively wasteful to the point of being useful plus the cost of demolition.

    The handouts injected cash into the household sector (when it was most needed. When national income was sinking like a stone.

  61. Grigory M

    It’s been estimated that, as a result of these extra amounts, the cost of employing a Commonwealth public servant is 2.5 times their base salary. This means that an SES Band 1 on a base salary of $180,000 pa actually costs the taxpayer $450,000 pa.

    FMD. Des, that seems like rather generous estimating. Care to enlighten us about who it’s been estimated by?

  62. Des Deskperson

    ‘ Care to enlighten us about who it’s been estimated by?’

    It was Department of Finance costing advice in the mid nineties. I haven’t seen it recently, but I’ve been out of that particular loop. As perks alone can increase the costs of employing a public servant up to 30% above base salary and as this doesn’t begin to include all the other support costs -including employing the diversity officer, the disability officer, the ‘learning and development’ team and the change management consultant – then it’s not implausible.

  63. Grigory M

    You’ve worked in the public sector, Des? In HR, doing salaries and other employment costing? Or maybe in Finance, preparing budgets and other operating cost estimates?

  64. Anne

    Thanks Des and Johanna.

    Its pretty disheartening in terms of human nature. Indolent thieves and opportunists!

    I’d support harsh penalties including never, ever to be employed in the public service again and stripping of all benefits.

    In fact I think there’s a case for limiting public service tenure to ten years, except for politicians, who must work in the Private sector for fifteen years prior to seeking elected office.

  65. hzhousewife

    Kudoes Des and Johanna for trying to do the right thing by us all when in the P.S.

    I like your rules Anne. My own one is that no-one should be able to train as a teacher
    until they are at least 25.

  66. johanna

    Des Deskperson
    #1289956, posted on May 3, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Johanna, good on you and well done!

    But you do understand that if, instead of tackling and solving difficult, sensitive and complex problems, you had turned your energies to organising a conference at which your agency head got to showcase him/herself, you would not only have received a performance bonus, you would have received an Australia Day medal, the PSM and been promoted.

    Absolutely, and I knew it at the time. In fairness to my bosses, they supported me (in a lukewarm sort of way) but as you correctly point out, it was not smart in terms of office politics.

    Still, it was immensely satisfying and made me feel that I was earning my dosh. Cleaning up the IT project saved taxpayers at least three years of my salary. Call me old-fashioned, but that helped me to sleep at night with a good conscience. The other one is difficult to quantify, but it reduced stupid red tape and gave taxpayers a much better chance of getting value for their money.

    I became known as a “fixer” for ugly problems. It’s not a role that makes one popular.

  67. You’ve worked in the public sector, Des? In HR, doing salaries and other employment costing? Or maybe in Finance, preparing budgets and other operating cost estimates?

    triangulation alert.

  68. Grigory M

    triangulation alert

    Interesting comment, Pundit. How’s the ICAC project coming along?

  69. I don’t do homework on the behest of argumentative internet personalities.

  70. Grigory M

    I don’t do homework on the behest of argumentative internet personalities.

    Yeah, me neither, Pundit. Never did like homework. And being behested? – not a fan of that at all. Can’t say I’ve come across too many argumentative internet personalities – although a few people on the Cat have been known to have a bit of a stoush (there was almost one this arvo – calli had the mercurochrome and a skip at the ready, but nothing eventuated). So – the ICAC project – you having fun with it? Thought you’d enjoy Quentin Dempster’s interview of Commissioner Barry O’Keefe about Brian Langton, the former Labor Minister.

  71. So – the ICAC project – you having fun with it?

    what did I just say? There’s a perception that ICAC goes after Liberals more than Labor. your response was – at least in large part – ‘watch this space’ effectively. And “go and do lots of reading.” neither of which were particularly compelling refutations.

  72. .

    sdfc
    #1290347, posted on May 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm
    Yes, the handouts were in the short term relatively benign (but costly nevertheless), infrastructure project were massively wasteful to the point of being useful plus the cost of demolition.

    The handouts injected cash into the household sector (when it was most needed. When national income was sinking like a stone.

    Absolute nonsense.

    40% of the “injection” was saved – given the Treasury estimate of the consumption multiplier (2.5), the net effect was zero, before the costs of amortising bonds financed by future taxes subject to deadweight loss.

    You are a chartalist but won’t admit to it. Hand back your degree, you disgrace.

  73. Grigory M

    what did I just say?

    Beats me, Pundit. Nothing consequential, as far as I can see. Anyway, have fun with the project.

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