Let the market work its magic

For some time now we have been hearing the mantra that ‘the age of entitlement is over’. It’s Joe Hockey’s signature slogan because, at six words, it is too prolix for Tony Abbott. He prefers such concision as ‘stop the boats’, ‘axe the tax’, ‘ditch the witch’ and, referring to poisonous wind turbines, ‘stop these things now’.

This week Joe will put some flesh on the bones of his slogan when he delivers his maiden budget. I personally can’t wait – and being somewhat impatient I found a transcript of the speech that he gave a couple of years back at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London when he first publicly condemned the epoch of entitlement to history.

It is worth a read, if only to help contextualise his fiscal strangulations within his social worldview. He basically says that western governments have been too kind to their citizens by providing ‘free’ services.

As population ages and growth slows, spending must be reined in because tax only ‘impedes individual ambition’ which ‘enforces the barriers of class’ – a concept that the Libs usually reject! He quotes Thatcher to make his essential point that government ought to concern itself with ‘equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome’.

This last idea – echoing social Darwinism – is at the heart of his thinking. The implication is that governments need only provide a ‘level playing field’. So they should get out of the way and let the market work its magic because ‘entitlement is a concept that corrodes the very heart of the process of free enterprise that drives our economies’.

Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby


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