Services or handouts?

Promises from both parties raise the question of whether it’s preferable to invest billions in public services or spend the same amount on targeted handouts and tax breaks to individual voters to compensate for some of the costs of those services. I’ve had a look at this issue in a post over at PollieGraph this morning.

Posted in federal election '07, Howardia
16 comments on “Services or handouts?
  1. kittylitter says:

    I think that there’s too many people left out with targeted handouts eg singles, single parents and not very well off taxpayers who support adult students living at home or assist with their finances.

    Some pay the same taxes, yet receive nothing by way of pork.

    There should be a way that everyone receives an equal share in the prosperity of the nation (surplus). So, I would support services rather than unequal handouts, or don’t tax people so much in the first place, and they can decide for themselves where to spend their money.

  2. mbahnisch says:

    I’m with you on that, kittylitter. Andrew Leigh was wondering the other day when the inevitable “singles party” would raise its head. Those of us who are single and have no kids are actually quite disadvantaged in distributional equity terms.

  3. Debbie (aussie) says:

    I think both parties seem to play to the lowest common denominator. Why don’t they believe that a majority want spending on services/infrastructure rather than handouts? I am in the position that kittylitter mentions; married couple, mid forties supporting youngest child through uni. Absolutely nothing in spending for us.
    Nobody wants to fix things, it would seem, only get elected. Wouldn’t it be great if somebody/anybody had the balls to do what needed to be done to really improve the lives of all/most of us?

  4. Razor says:

    I’d rather they didn’t take so much out of my pocket in the first place so I can spend it how I want. I know best what is good for my family and my self.

  5. mbahnisch says:

    And bugger anyone else.

    I don’t have kids, have what’s overall probably a middle income (coming from all sorts of places rather than full time work), and am single and in my 30s. I get no special tax rebates, or breaks, or any allowances or benefits from the government. There’s absolutely nothing in any of this crap for me, but I don’t draw the conclusion from that that I should be offended that my taxes are going to pay for education or “services” that I don’t personally use or benefit from.

  6. Debbie (aussie) says:

    I’m with you Mark. I don’t mind paying taxes, it is the how and where they are spent that really matters(or should), to all of us.

  7. Razor says:

    No, you are wrong. You have no idea what sort of philanthropy I get up to.

  8. FDB says:

    And THAT, my friends, is a nice distillation of the left/right divide (to the extent that it still exists). “What about me?” versus the oddly inverted “I’m alright Jac(queline)”.

    If you were really in need, Razor, I’d care about your plight.

  9. Tony D says:

    Hahaha I’m sure that some people would just love a user-pays military. Or maybe police force? The sky’s the limit!

    Or privatise these services totally and complete the Decline of the Nation State! Heheheh Crisis of Legitimacy here we come!

  10. mbahnisch says:

    No, you are wrong. You have no idea what sort of philanthropy I get up to.

    That’s nice, Razor. All us single no-kids can pay less taxes and you can pay the entire cost of your kids’ education. Deal? Maybe you can find some philanthropists to help.

  11. philiptravers says:

    Services what are services.They are like exclaimation marks that are usable so there are no questions of a hurtful and incomprehensible type reloaded in one’s head everyday.I will refrain from acknowledging the service delivery component to me just doesnt bloody well exist.And even then I feel sorry for the one cent Telstra compensation claimants,as much as I feel for myself, at the Bill after the present one.And all the spells and mispellings of modern 2007 life for me are just a curse on the eyeballs. That is just one part of,in two parts, of the reality of my existence. I cannot understand when Mark drinks his beer,wether it is a service or a penalty!?

  12. Foucault A Go Go says:

    The “single people” movement has already stsrted in the US. But I am more worried about 90 year old babyboomers demanding the government spending gazillions to keep them alive another year, then another, then another…

  13. Mug Punter says:

    Privatised military? From my perspective, that what’s happening in blood for oil Iraq, where some western governments are using citizen taxes and bodies for and on behalf of the oil and armament industries – All wrapped up in the flag of course.

    Spend my taxes on decent services for dignified and productive lives and productive infrastructure.

    Oh, and I’d like a government which can actually run programs properly – A lot of what I have directly experienced of Howard bureaucracies demonstrates incompetence [ie: Looking deeper than the glossy brochures and the spin]

  14. Peterc says:

    Howard pork for this election now totals about $64.1b. That is millions of pigs. Some of Keating’s ex pig’s descendents must even be in the salami vat. Rudd pork for this election now totals $53.1b, indicating he is slightly less opportunistic about trying to buy votes.

    I think there is widespread public support for:

    1. Government gouging less tax to waste vast amounts of OUR money during election campaigns

    2. Government spending more on public transport, public health, tackling climate change, aged persons pensions, aged care support, disability carer support, kindergartens etc. After all, this is what governments used to be for.

  15. Razor says:

    Once again, assumptions made on no basis about what I may or may not think is appropriate with respect to taxation and expenditure. I have no problem with paying taxes – there is a moral obligation to do so. I do however think we are far too highly taxed. This limits economic growth and development which is bad for society – it means we are unable to look after the least fortunate as well as we should and could. I have no problem with expenditure on public goods, in particular Defence, which is woefully under-funded and should be at least 4% of GDP. I do have a problem, in a near full-employment economy, of paying unemployment benefits to people who have the capacity but not the intention to work. The ABC is also a waste of money. I resent the duplication and triplication of waste in our current three tiered system of government. I also have a major issue with much of the non-means-tested middle-class welfare that neither major party is going to reduce.

  16. Mark Hill says:

    If we cut the pork, duplication and welfare churn, a flat 20% GST alone, and no other taxes would raise sufficient revenue (on some very back of the envelope calculations) to fund the entire outlay of Federal, State and Local Governments.

    But Mark B has implied somehow that tax cuts are handouts.

    (Nasally) “Please explain?”

    Razor – what is actually offensive are poverty traps which make people better off by not working and high taxes on investment which lower wages and labour demand, in turn reducing people’s willingness to work.

    Undeserving welfare may be a necessary evil to get rid of the even worse poverty traps.

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