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Ron Manners, Abolition of the Means Test News, September 1980, p. 11.

One of my hobbies is collecting examples of how government policies always achieve the opposite of their perhaps well-intentioned aims.

The Means Test is yet another example.

Some Government introduced the Means Test on the grounds that some aged persons had a greater need for the pension than others. This reasoning however overlooks simple justice where citizens, who, having been robbed all their lives by government taxes, should actually stand equal at the “return of stolen goods” ceremony.

I’ve heard the politicians say, “Yes, but there isn’t enough money left for everyone to get a pension.”

My question is, “Okay, what have they done with the money? Was it taken from the taxpayers under false pretences? Would pensioners actually be better off if the government had left them with a little more of their own money, to spend as they chose, and to plan their own financial security?”

Government intention may have been to redistribute incomes, as judged by the bureaucracy to be fair, but this is where we come to the actual opposite result of their actions.

The point not generally recognised by governments, is the importance of increasing the rewards for working, investing, saving and producing.

The very existence of the Means Test destroys the incentive for many people, at the prime of their experience, to occupy themselves productively. The “reward” they now receive, is to be denied equality with their contemporaries. Politicians and bureaucrats are generally short on realism, in that they don’t appear to grasp the fact that, if you reduce the rewards for something, you get less of it and if you increase the reward for something, you get more of it.

In Australia today, we are taxing work, savings, investment, thrift, productivity, effort, success and risk; and we subsidise non-work, unemployment, debt, consumption, leisure, idleness and mediocrity; and we’re getting much more of the latter than we are of the former.

As long as we persist with our policies of taxing work and production, we will never increase the level of independence for Australians.

What needs to be done is to tax consumption, not production.

We know where the money has gone! It’s gone into many of the self-perpetuating Qangos, which should be sold off to the public, thus releasing the funds for the purpose for which they were originally taken from your pay-cheques.

Why are they so horrified at the thought of selling off a Qango like Qantas?

Some of the world’s most successful businesses are ex-government. Volkswagen is the biggest. It was first established by the Nazi Regime, but, post-war, as an ailing no-hoper, was sold to the people. A variety of forms of ownership, and conditions of sale, could be arranged. Some could simply be floated on the stock exchanges.

Many, no doubt, would not make it for long in the open market place, but at least the wisdom of the market would assist in properly reallocating these resources so they would cease to be a drag on your pockets.

Let our governments show courage and initiative themselves, in producing some firm divestment proposals to help themselves, and the people who are supporting them, in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

Though it all sounds very simple, unfortunately nothing will change, until enough voters become aware of the crippling effects of excessive government intervention, in our daily lives.

If this happens, our politicians might then take steps, to limit government activity to its correct role of referee, and protector of the rights of individuals and their property.

Only under these more ideal free enterprise conditions will pensions be recognised as a property right rather than a privilege.

Only when viewed in economic terms will it be seen that pensions are simply the return of your own money, after deductions for government created inflation and management.

When viewed in these terms there is a strong case for tax cuts and tax deductions, to permit freedom of choice to buy much better value retirement plans than the pension system offered by the government.

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