Politics Prosperity and Productivity

Eric Walters writes…

Is it just me, or are others concerned that governments around the world are becoming more interested in preservation of their power than they are the betterment of the populace they were elected to represent?

Regrettably this is being manifested in two unfortunate ways: firstly political electioneering campaigns are becoming personal and ‘ugly’; and secondly public money is being handed out without due consideration of the consequences for ‘beneficiaries’ of the government largesse!

There was a time in politics in Australia at least (and in my lifetime), when politicians were able to debate on the basis of their beliefs, their ‘u.s.p.’ according to their underlying philosophy (from a ‘socialistic’/ reformist approach; or from a conservative approach) – without having to resort to personal slanging matches. Is it any wonder that the parliaments around the world are so precariously poised – the voters have got little, if any idea as to what any of them actually stand for!

The outcome is that whoever is in power clings to that power by how it appeals to the majority of those voters through their ‘handouts’.

There is a time-honoured expression that says ‘give a man a bowl of rice and you feed him for a day; teach him how to grow rice and you feed him for life’. There are two rants that come from this line of thought: the first is that our government is making our people lazy by giving them money that hasn’t been earned (particularly on the basis that they are wanting more of the population to share in the success of the few); and secondly, they have delayed providing for the truly needy in other parts of the world so that they can deliver this largesse in a year leading up to a ballot.

In a well-structured economy, prosperity comes from productivity. Increase the efficiency of the workforce (whether by better training, more effective production processes or improved technology) and restrict the government’s access to the wealth thus generated and the economy will grow – and the people less dependant on government for social security (more recently being seen as wealth re-distribution).

Private enterprise inspired conservative governments in the mid- to latter-twentieth century administered in a way that provided opportunity for individuals to prosper through their productive endeavours: they operated in an environment of ‘small government’. The reformist Labour governments in the final decades of that century adopted a more ‘middle of the road’ approach and encouraged efficiency and effective utilisation of resources.

Since then however, all political parties (of note) have drifted to an almost common ground, seeking to appeal to voters through their wallet rather than their intellect. The serious question to be answered by the politicians is how do they expect the people to know what philosophy drives their day-to-day decision making when they don’t debate on that basis?

Do you care about the size or shape of the PM’s posteria?

Do you accept that the best explanation the government can give for failing to pass important legislation is an Opposition that ‘just says No’?

Would you rather receive a handout from the government who has borrowed the money to give you, or a tax rebate/ offset against your hard-earned income?

Is the superannuation environment adequate for you to feel confident about contributing some of your profits/ wages towards a self-funded retirement?

I really enjoyed the statement by one of my clients this morning when he said: ‘I wish they would just get on with managing the economy without the distractions for us all of their servicing the level of debt, so that I can just get on with running my business: I’ll pay my due taxes – that I would prefer to be lower – but I don’t want government handouts!’

What are your thoughts?

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