Pop culture obsessives will never forget the famous episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show where the queen of America gave everyone in the audience — all 276 of them — a free Pontiac. What is less often remembered is that everyone who got a car also got a tax bill of $US6,000 with it. Nice.
This evening, when Josh Frydenberg stepped up to the dispatch box and delivered his ‘”you got a government program, you got a government program, you got a government program and you got a government program” budget, there was also a sting in its tail — a nice tax liability; a tax liability that will need to be paid for by our children and grandchildren.
One must really wonder what Frydenberg meant last year when he declared his admiration for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Maybe it was really nostalgia for the music of his eighties youth:
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I’ve travelled the world and the seven seas
Ev’rybody’s lookin‘ for something.
Sweet dreams indeed. When the Treasurer highlighted calls “for a Reagan-Thatcher style supply-side revolution to repair the budget deficit, repay public debt and restore Australia’s lost prosperity ”, who thought he would have delivered the biggest deficit and biggest debt in Australia’s history — so large, in fact, that Wayne Swan probably threw his crystal “Galaxy’s Greatest Treasurer” trophy at the television in jealousy.
Perhaps Frydenberg’s budget strategy of childcare and age care subsidies was inspired by putting a twist of his own on the words of Ronald Reagan: “Government does not solve problems; it subsidises them”. Perhaps he was trying to give the wisdom of Margaret Thatcher a run. It was, after all, Thatcher who said “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” — and in this budget, the Treasurer is actually attempting to run out of other people’s money.
It so seems that the inspiration for today’s budget came from “travelling the world and the seven seas”, from seeing how those fiscal paragons of Zimbabwe and Venezuela spent their way to increased inflation. They did manage to stimulate inflation to increase wages. Unfortunately, though, prices increased much faster.
But this budget is the budget of the modern Liberal Party of Australia; the party that believes that Edmund Burke was a fool for suggesting that society was a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.
Bugger the dead and the to be born. Take therefore no thought for the morrow. Party on, dude. Par-tay!
(At least until election day.)
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