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Dear Government

December 20th, 2012 by Viv

Viv Forbes
Written April 1998.

It was Gough Whitlam, I think, who said:

“It must be election time – I can feel a dam coming on”.

It was also probably Gough’s political adviser, who, at the start of a vote buying tour of regional Australia, advised his chief:

“If they’ve got a river, promise them a dam. If not, promise them a college of advanced education.”

Working on the observation that the only time the butterflies in Parliament even pretend to listen to us toads who employ them, is during election time, it is probably a good time to offer them all some advice. This open letter is thus directed to all candidates from all parties in both Queensland and Federal electorates, and their staff, advisers lobbyists and wordsmiths. (That probably gives a potential audience of several million.)

Dear Government,

Please stop doing things to us – you have done too much already.

You may start with good intentions, but it seems every problem you promise to solve, gets bigger.

Take unemployment. For a quarter century you have said you are concerned about the army of people not working. Some concern. Almost every policy you have dreamed up seems designed to make unemployment worse.

First you levy a raft of taxes on everyone who provides a job. Every fool knows that if you tax something, you will get less of it. Therefore your taxes on jobs must result in fewer jobs.

Then you introduce or tolerate so many onerous laws on wages, hiring and firing that many small businesses now have a policy “Hire no one – it is too much cost, risk and hassle”.

Then you tax everyone who works, and the longer and harder he works, the more you tax him. So, he works less or goes to the beach (where he picks up regular cheques from you).

Then, to complete your portfolio of anti-work policies, you pay generous subsidies to everyone who does not work. Now even University economists know that if you subsidise something, you will get more of it. We subsidise idleness and dependency but pretend to be surprised when they increase. We must surely be the only country in the world where able bodied youngsters with no dependants can go straight from your playschools onto your dole, and stay there for years.

The end result of such foolishness is there to see in the Lockyer, where I live – over 50% of Laidley’s adult population are getting cheques from you for not working. You have achieved the position fatal to any democracy – there are more people voting for a living than working for a living.

So, please let’s hear nothing about any further plans you have for solving unemployment. All we ask is that you repeal all the fool things you have done so far.

And talking about subsidies, can you please cease throwing our money at people, especially at our competitors. We all know that the money we get from you is the money we sent you, less freight charges both ways. Just take less from us and stop playing Father Christmas. You should put up big signs on every road and airport leading to the parliamentary honey-pots – “Attention all Mendicants – No more free lunches here”.

Or in the more illiterate areas like Canberra, perhaps signs saying “No Begging” would be better understood.

What hurts us most is the waste. While us working toads struggle to make ends meet, we fume to see the waste, overmanning and inefficiency in your feather-bedded offices and monopoly businesses. While we drive old cars and older tractors, your officious employees drive around in the latest model air-conditioned 4WD with surround sound. If we are lucky, we pick up your cast-offs in an auction.

We see the junkets, the plum jobs and the rorts; the handouts to the undeserving and the unworthy; the white elephants and the help to political mates; grants to unions we hate, promotion of life styles we abhor, tax breaks to some businesses and not others, handouts to culture we won’t support ourselves and subsidies to games and circuses that cannot stand on their own feet.

And your generosity does not stop at home. Every time some foreign government makes a bigger mess of things than you have here, you reward them too with foreign aid. A billion here and a billion there – pretty soon you’re talking real money. If it ever got to the real working stiffs we could maybe accept your generosity on our behalf, but too much goes to corrupt and dictatorial governments or their militaries. These governments would be far less arrogant and more responsive to the real needs of their own people and their industry if they were forced to rely on them, not on foreign governments, for their income.

And of course you will want to bleat about tax reform. As Lady Flo said years ago, “If a new tax is the answer, it must have been a pretty silly question”.

Every election you tell us how you are going to cut taxes and improve government services. But every year, no matter which lot sits in the plush offices, taxes go up and services diminish.

There is only one tax on the people and that is government spending. The only tax reform we need is to cut the total burden of taxes. All else is just a diversion. Once you have cut taxes to no more than 20% of national income, you can then abolish half your taxes and collect the rest with a simple flat rate tax on all income.

What angers us most is your gall. You run the most wasteful operation in the country. You employ more people, more land and buildings and more capital to produce less of value to us than ever before in our history. Then you set up several departments to advise us how to run our overburdened businesses.

And what passes for monetary policy is to use the printing presses, asset sales, loan rollovers and shifty accounting to hide the fact that you haven’t enough discipline to balance your budget, like we are forced to do.

You rob our parents with creeping inflation, you rob us with excessive taxes and you saddle our kids with crippling debt. Next you will be astonished when we choose not to hang on to your depreciating monopoly money.

So, this election, promise us less please. Once the ten commandments were a sufficient law book. Now we have the 10,000 laws and the 10 million regulations.

Judging from past performance, most of your election promises are worthless and will be broken within the first six months, and those you keep will make things worse. So, for a change, no new promises except to clean up the legislative mess causing most of our problems. Start repealing all the rubbish on the law books. Stop treating us as children, so we can learn to be adults. Get back to basics.

You were sent to parliament to protect those who do the nation’s work, obey the nation’s laws and pay the nation’s bills. Let’s give them some attention for a while, not all the noisy un-worthies at home and abroad who have discovered how to vote or clamour for a living. We should all be equal before the law but too often we see laws designed to pander to aborigines, greenies, public employees, unionists, big business or small business. There is no public benefit in playing favourites – just growing community anger or envy each time it happens.

Look after defence, keep the streets safe, fix up the terrible mess in education, health and every other business you try to run. Give us a few just laws of universal application, sound currency and low taxes.

And don’t forget the big signs on every beaten track into Canberra and George Street – “NO BEGGING HERE”.

Yours in Disgust,
Those Who Pay the Bills

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