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Pay attention; it’s your money

In view of the completion of the recent Public Choice Theory course at Notre Dame in Fremantle, here is a comment on the topic I made in 2016.

Evidence abounds to show how Canberra suffers from a “spending disease” (it is not a “revenue problem” as they claim).

In their reckless spending (in self-serving pursuit of re-election) they are currently borrowing at the rate of $100 million per day[1] (much of which pays the interest on their/our current debt).

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two.”

Thomas Sowell

Any “responsible household” or “business proprietor” would take some action to avert disaster, so you may be bewildered at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest extravagance:

Clean Energy Innovation Fund ($1 billion down the drain).
Previously to be abolished.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation ($ 600 million)
Previously to be abolished.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency [ARENA] ($2.357 billion)

You might be excused for wondering if these three expensive entities will deliver results. Will energy be cleaner?

This is the wrong question to ask, we should ask, “where does the money go?”

I challenge any investigative journalists to find out who the lucky recipients of the $1 billion which has already been spent by ARENA and the further $1 billion from the forthcoming Clean Energy Innovation Fund and the other odd $1 billion or so.

Such an investigation would confirm that “politics is broken” in Australia and despite the best efforts of Australia’s seven principled politicians[2], we are still losing ground.

Good economists study Public Choice Theory (PCT) which explains “concentrated benefits” (flowing to the few beneficiaries versus diffused costs, spread over many unsuspecting victims).

Those lucky recipients “work their butts off” to ensure that legislation tilted in their favour pass effortlessly through Parliament, whilst the rest of us numbered in the “unsuspecting victims” category don’t stir ourselves to burst into print or march in the streets.

Public Choice Theory explains why so much bad legislation has such an easy ride through Parliament.

The noted economic philosopher Thomas Sowell describes this phenomenon:

“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two.”

Anyone with an understanding of Public Choice Theory can start their own collection of “the birth of bad laws”.

Isn’t it surprising, with the government designed educational syllabus, that all but one of Australia’s universties have abolished teaching Public Choice Theory?


[1] The Intergenerational Report 2015, produce by the Treasury Department , stated that” “The Australian Government is currently spending over $100 million per day more than it collects, and is borrowing to meet the shortfall.” (Intergnerational Report 2015 Executive Summary, page xv).

[2] Bob Day, Cory Bernardi, Gary Gray, Andrew Hastie, David Leyonjhelm, James Paterson, Tim Wilson (endorsed)

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