‘Itch’ (noun) “… an irritating sensation on the skin that makes one want to scratch the affected part”.
What may have started as ‘an irritating sensation on the skin’, regrettably has developed into a full-blown cancer affecting the nation’s vital organs.
I am talking about authoritarianism.
Shortly after World War II, George Orwell published his novel ‘1984’. The story was set in a country ruled by ‘Big Brother’, a supreme dictator in an all-powerful, one-party state. The central character, Winston Smith, whose job it was to re-write the nation’s history books to fit the current narrative of the state, was continually tormented by his task. The department in which he worked was called ‘The Ministry of Truth’.
Orwell’s novel exposed the true nature of authoritarian governments which hold on to power by generating fear, distorting facts and censoring alternative views. For a book published in 1949, his description of surveillance technology to track and trace citizens is downright spooky.
“Know everything in order to control everyone,” said Adam Weishaupt.
Technology and mass surveillance allow governments to do just that – know everything.
‘The long march through the institutions’ is nearing completion.
More government, more spending, more taxes, more regulation, more state power, more state control. Income tax, payroll tax, land tax, petrol tax, the goods & services tax, stamp duty, excise duty on alcohol and tobacco, power company dividends, water company dividends, the River Murray Levy, the Emergency Services Levy, the Regional Landscape Levy, the Solid Waste Levy, the Medicare Levy, Council Rates and many, many more. Local, state and federal governments taxing us at every turn.
And of course, that most pernicious of all taxes – inflation tax. Pernicious because it so disproportionally affects those who spend a higher percentage of their income on food, petrol, electricity and gas, which are more susceptible to price rises.
Naturally, the government blames everyone else for the price rises – greedy businesses, supply chains, Vladimir Putin … anyone but themselves.
As US economist Peter Schiff puts it, “Inflation is caused by governments spending money they don’t have, accompanied by compliant central banks who not only forsake their mandates to keep inflation under control by putting up interest rates and punishing governments who overspend, they instead indulge governments by printing the money for them!”
Following the 1980s excesses, the Reserve Bank of Australia increased interest rates to 17.5% and the Hawke-Keating government copped a mountain of pain. Yet, despite massive deficit spending over the past three years – the highest in the nation’s history – the RBA last month lifted interest rates to just 3.1%.
So, what happens when spending is not accompanied by revenue measures to pay for it? Where does the money come from? Inflation. Instead of higher taxes, consumers pay higher prices.
The bad news is it is going to get worse. And when it does, the Albanese government will again try to blame greedy businesses and introduce more price controls on them – like the recent coal price cap. Not good times ahead.
Then there’s the government’s bagmen accomplices, the rent-seekers – companies that base their business models on providing goods and services to consumers that are either paid for by the government or the government prevents or limits competition. It is another layer of taxation which disproportionally affects low-income families – those who can’t afford to install solar panels on their roofs, for example.
These rent-seekers are now everywhere – energy, superannuation, pharmaceuticals, higher education, land development, indigenous groups, public transport, manufacturing – you name it. They are a scourge. They tarnish the political process, distort the market and in the case of so-called ‘renewable energy’, distort the entire economy.
Renewable energy rent-seekers have leapt onto the climate change bandwagon with unbridled zeal and are raking in billions of dollars gaming the system, raising energy prices, impoverishing consumers, destroying jobs, and fleecing taxpayers.
Along with unions and industry superfunds, these new Australian oligarchs have limitless amounts of money to both shore up their own positions and resist anyone who might try to challenge them.
Previously, entrepreneurs went to the marketplace to make their fortunes. Today the public purse is the mother lode.
When the NDIS was announced in 2012, it was forecast to cost $14bn a year. In April 2022, actuary firm Taylor Fry estimated that by 2030 the cost will blow out to $64bn a year– a $50bn a year increase.
How was this allowed to happen in such a short period of time? Simple – professionalised politics and sophisticated rent-seeking.
The story is told of a forest that was continually shrinking – but the trees kept voting for the axe. The axe, you see, was very clever; it was able to convince the trees that because its handle was made of wood, it was one of them.