The online Sydney Morning Herald published an interesting interactive table of possible federal budget expenditures and cuts. You can click on an icon for several costed items listed as "Cuts to programs" or "Raise taxes or end concessions". As you click on a cut or revenue measure the budget balance shifts.
It may not be as exhilarating or gory to play as Assassin’s Creed or Mass Effect (though I've only read about these computer games). But it does highlight some of the political, social and environmental choices in the budget debate.
The article urges readers to pretend "You're the Treasurer" and your objective is to "balance the books" and eliminate the $17 billion revenue shortfall predicted by Finance Minister Penny Wong.
Looking down the list of possible cuts:
* Labor's "Gonski" high school education funding ($9.4 billion) — I'd keep this but axe the funding for private schools (which Gillard plans to increase by $2.4 billion while slashing $2.3 billion from tertiary education).
* Tax capital gains at the same rate as work income ($5.2 billion revenue gain) — yes!
* Abolish negative gearing for landlords ($5 billion revenue gain) — yes!
* Cut super tax breaks for people earning more than $80,000 (gain $3 billion) plus restore taxes on superannuation payout ($2 billion) — yes! The whole superannuation thing is a rort. We need a public age pension scheme full stop.
* Remove tax breaks for mining exploration ($1.9 billion) — yes! These are just part of the estimated $4 billion subsidies and concessions the mining companies get (as well as the mining tax rip off).
* Reduce tax benefits for family trusts ($1 billion) — yes!
* Abolish fuel tax rebates ($6.4 billion) — yes!
* Abolish private health insurance rebate ($4.55 billion). Yes! This money should go to the public health system.
Jeez, I've yet to start cutting back on the ridiculous spending on war planes and submarines or raising company tax rates and marginal income tax rates for the rich (for a start, back to where they were in the 1970s), and I've "saved" more than $31 billion already.
That is more than enough to close the revenue shortfall and pay for more urgently needed spending on social and environmental needs.
The point is that you have to ignore the lies and posturing of both big parties when it comes to the budget. They are trying to bamboozle us and terrify us into accepting their common political agenda of helping the rich get richer.
Meanwhile, here is a real budget issue. Green Left Weekly’s treasurer informs us that supporters have now raised $57,393 for 2013’s Fighting Fund. We expect it to rise next week substantially after more than 180 people went to the May 10 Green Left Weekly Annual Comedy Debate in Melbourne.
But we have to raise $250,000 by the end of the year, so we need your help.
Can you organise a small fundraising event (a BBQ or party for GLW)? Or can you make a donation online to the Fighting Fund today at greenleft.org.au?
Direct deposits can also be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or donate on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).