Tell us the truth about how 'someone always pays'

Saturday, April 26, 2014
Federal treasurer Joe Hockey said: "Nothing is free — someone always pays." Tell us about it!

“Nothing is free — someone always pays,” federal treasurer Joe Hockey said in his latest softening-up, pre-budget speech on April 24.

Yeah, tell us about it.

His Coalition government is preparing to make pensioners, the sick and the poor pay for the $80 billion that was used to bail out Australian capitalism in the great financial crisis, along with the $169 billion in tax cuts that mainly benefited the richest 10%, and — to rub salt into the wound — the $24 billion the government is planning to spend on yet-to-be-built Lockheed F-35 fighter jets.

So don't try to justify your government's rob-the-poor-to-give-to-the rich policies with the cliché “nothing is free — someone always pays”, because we've been living it.

It doesn't have to be like this. Another eye-opening study by the Australia Institute has demonstrated that if tax benefits on superannuation (expected to cost $35 billion this year and rise to $50.17 billion in 2016-2017 – at which point it will have outstripped spending on the age pension) were abolished, there would be more than enough money to provide a universal age pension of 37.5% of average weekly earnings.

In fact, the study found, there would be a 30% saving on what is now projected to be spent on age pensions and super tax benefits.

But hang on, removing the tax breaks for super is going to hurt ordinary working people, isn't it? Wrong. The study also shows that the bottom 60% of income earners get only 27% of the super tax concessions while the richest 10% get almost 32%.

The argument pushed by Liberal and Labor governments that superannuation is a better way of looking after the aged, is a lie. It has proved to be yet another device to make the rich even richer. And it does this not only through giving more tax cuts to the rich but also by drafting compulsory savings of workers to help the banks and other big corporations get richer.

This is only one of many neoliberal scams that have been used since 1975 to shift more than $3.3 trillion in Australia from wages to profit share of national income.

Green Left Weekly argues that it is high time to reverse course. Yes, nothing comes from nothing. Profit comes from the sweat of workers and the robbery of nature. Privatisation is theft. But in the lead up to the federal budget, Hockey and PM Tony Abbott will tell you the opposite. And it will be all lies.

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From GLW issue 1006