Australia has a new Prime Minister and a new Treasurer. Perhaps it is wishful on Spartacus’ part, but can we please have a new fiscal mindset.
Beyond a doubt the thing that sh*ts Spartacus the most about discussions of government policy is the suggestion that more money spent means better results. The idiotic lines our political overlords mouth about record spending on health, on education, on welfare on whatever blah blah they have in mind that day means nothing more than more money spent.
There is no end to the amount of money that can be spend on health, welfare and education. Actually there is. It is 100% of the private sector economy plus any debt dumb investors would loan.
But is what is spent, spent efficiently and have we passed the point of negative marginal returns were every additional dollar of spending costs the economy more than that dollar spent? Most certainly for sure indubitably.
Yes. Spending is an easy proxy to communicate to the dumb and ill-informed, a group generally dominated by Fairfax journalists, ABC journalists and Australian Greens members, a grouping that would look like a single circle if drawn as a Venn diagram. But to say spend more means better results would be like saying the more multi-vitamins you consume, the healthier you would be.
Multiple bureaucratic systems have been set up to measure how much is going into the Government spending machine. Budgets, costing, the Parliamentary Budget Office. Yet where are the systems to actually assess how the money is spent and what comes out of the Government spending machine. Assessment that extend beyond platitudes and histrionics and actually describe outcomes and effectiveness. Pouring water into a bucket with a giant hole in the bottom will never fill the bucket. Unless of course the objective is to create water pouring jobs and to never actually fill the bucket.
Spending on health and education is not an investment unless you get a return. And to assess the return, you actually have to try to measure results. Claiming a holiday as a capital investment, and then writing it off on tax won’t sit very well with the ATO.
When is the last time an education Minister got up and said that for the $XXX billion spent this year, Australian tax payers got this. Or a health Minister getting up and saying similar.
Can you imagine at BHP’s annual general meeting the Chairman declaring that last year the company spend $2b last year and next year would be a better year because $2.2b would be spent? And when asked about profit or production, the Chairman would say that it did not matter because the company was spending record sums.
Dear Prime Minister and Treasurer. This is your chance. You are the new (Pepsi) generation. Start talking about the results of government spending and not the amount of government spending. If nothing else, this is something the Labor Party will never be able to match you on.
And if you are not willing to do this, can you please set up a Parliamentary Accountability Office whose role will be to do this for you.