Happy Budget Day

I hope you all had great fun watching the Federal Budget last night. Didn’t Peter Costello look dapper in his Sunday (or Tuesday) best – he was wearing a particularly spiffy stripey tie. He’s way too trendy to be a real Prime Ministerial candidate. I think Tony Abbott with his unfashionable satellite dish ears, and slightly elf like chin, is a much more realistic candidate. If you throw the “here’s my adopted-out non-son” nonsense into the mix he’s got the whole public sympathy thing happening too. Clearly that’s how John Howard got elected. Everyone felt sorry for the little man. I had a budget party by myself last night. How sad is that. I also installed a new hard drive in my computer and almost killed it. So I’m a nerd and a geek.

Today’s theory is that economists are the strangest people in the world – I base this theory on my two economist friends – Ben and Joe. Some of you will know both Ben and Joe, others will know one or the other, some of you will know neither. Suffice to say (that’s a grammatically incorrect figure of speech if ever I’ve seen one – there really should be an it’s before the Suffice, but that’s not how it works*)- they’re both weird. Anyway, I got a post budget email from Ben asking me what my opinion is on the government’s subsidy of childcare places – he’s not sure non-parents should be carrying the can for those who choose to reproduce. Here’s my response – copied directly from the email:

“On childcare – the reality is children are the future of our country, and a valuable resource that should be invested in. I think there are two ways to look at it – the government could provide financial assistance for parents who choose to stay at home and look after their children (meaning that childcare wouldn’t need to be such an issue) – essentially they do this with family allowance – but it could be a greater counter childcare incentive.
On the socio-economic side of things – it stands to reason that genetically some people will have more intelligent children than others – it worries me that “smart” people are increasingly choosing not to breed – and dumb people aren’t caring for and nurturing their children like smart people would – I think this will be a problem. On an interesting side note – there’s an economist who has tied decreasing crime stats in the US with the introduction of abortion – he’s that popular economist guy who writes those books. ”

Ben’s response used an analogy of a soccer coach who only invests in youth being narrow minded and not particularly likely to experience short term success.

Here’s my counter response:

“There’s no point spending lots of money on encouraging today’s generation to make as much money as possible if they’re going to die out – except that they’ll leave no heirs and the government will get the money. That’s an interesting form of investment – but the people the money will benefit in the long term will be children from broken homes, who have been educated through a crappy state system because they can’t afford private education and who have parents who haven’t been able to bring them up properly because they’re working to be able to buy their plasma screen TVs and luxury items.

By the same token – the parents with good jobs who work to put their kids through child care and pay for their plasma televisions will decide that economically it makes more sense not to have kids to begin with so they can buy bigger TVs and both work to make their lives more comfortable.

Inherent human selfishness will be the death of our society – the more self sufficient individuals society creates the smaller society becomes – those individuals become their own society and then die off. It’s a poor economic model – which is why children are our future – and it’s why Costello called for people to take one for the team and breed.

A good coach finds the right mixture of youth and experience (Chelsea – Robben and co, Crespo) a bad coach buys a bunch of guys who are in, or passing their prime (Real Madrid – Zidane, Figo etc) or invests only in youth and loses all their experience (I’d put Ferguson in that category at the moment, releasing experience in Beckham, Keane, et al and bringing in Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney).”

That’s the sort of thing I talk about with my strange friends. It’s pseudo-intellectual I guess, and very self serving (some rude people might say it’s a load of wank – but I’m not rude).

Now that I earn an income I say yay for tax cuts… and I’ll leave you with this asterixed point to check out.

*Sidenote on the English language – Micallef does this sketch as an arts critic filling in for a sports journo in a post match interview with a footballer who says “it all goes well for the finals” when of course the sports star should have said “it augers well” or “all bodes well” – his point was remade by the SMH a couple of weeks ago in an article highlighting the highjacking of language by our culture of stupidity. Read it here.


mel says:

This comments page looked lonely – so I thought I’d post a comment. So, what is the topic of conversation for this comment page? Not the blog surely? I have no comments on the blog because it is political and over my head. So mark – you’re the MIP. Should’ve guessed it was a poyser.

Nathan says:

it’s about economics – not politics.

mip says:

Well, it’s political in the sense that the government is shelling out so much cash due to commodity & corporate tax boom surplus that the opposition has resorted to “we told them to” as an initial official response. Though the child-care and skills issues are valid in the long-term, probably not of much direct immediate impact on Joe public.

As for investing in the next generation, the tax free super deal is to try to keep people working longer so there’s more time for people to breed to increase the workforce to support the more people retiring without kids to support them since super isn’t enough anyway.

mip says:

Why should you have knowm Mel?

Because of my sparkling personality and insightful wit?

Or because of the people at MPC with initials MP we would cover a significant percentage?

Anonymous says:

I’m going to finish reading this some time when I’m not drugged up on day/night flu pills. (Apparently they use them to make crystal meth…which would explain why they make me so happy.)
For your own interest, “suffice to say” IS grammatically correct. Your proposed use of the word “it’s” before “suffice” would change it to “It is suffice to say”, which would actually be the incorrect version, because “suffice” here is used as a verb, not as an adjective. Now, if the word in question was “sufficient”, then obviously we would need to say “It is sufficient to say”, because “sufficient” is an adjective, and would need the linking verb “is” to make any grammatical sense whatsoever.
All of the preceding is of course, a moot point, as everyone knows what “suffice to say” means, be it grammatically correct or no, and you and I are possibly the only people in the southern hemisphere gonzo enough about grammar to care.

PS: Your blog is very entertaining.

Nathan says:

I may be about to reveal my grammatical ignorance – I’m not sure suffice being a verb is relevant to the “it is” argument – I think what is relevant is that the “it is” statement is implied as suffice is a subjunctive. To place “it is” before the word suffice would then create a tautology – and we all know how I feel about tautologies. Tautologies are by their very nature redundant.

Nathan says:

PS – who is the latest anonymous?

mip says:

To add my grammatical ignorance:

Actually a subjunctive is a mood of verb that reflects on the hypothetical, commonly used with “if”, eg “if _it were_ possible that”

Now if “suffice to say” is equivalent to “it is sufficient to say” then the “suffice” takes the role of the adjective sufficient in the “it is” subjective phrase. Hey I put that sentence in subjunctive mood I think.

I’ve also heard the usage “suffice it to say” in which “it” is still the subject, “suffice” becomes the subjective verb. “suffice to say” probably is a corruption of “suffice it to say” in which the “it” is implied, not “it is.”

I’ve got no idea what the “to say” bit is called other than it’s in infinitive form.

mip says:

Also, I know your point was on the bastardisation of the english language , Nathan, but it put me in mind of some wonderful mixed metaphors from the Dilbert Newsletter – which I’m finding less amusing than I once did, but that’s another story.


The short answer is ‘Yes.’ The long answer is ‘No.'”

“Get your game faces on, because this is not a game!”

“Looks like I’ve spent the day chasing a wild herring! “

“We are the glue that keeps things moving. “

“Fits like a charm! Wait..fits like a shoe? “

“See me verbally.”

“That guy is running around like a chicken with his legs cut off.”

“It just like stealing teeth from a baby.”

“That guy doesn’t have a spine to stand on.”

bob says:

1. budget? there was a budget? man did i miss out on some good quality tv last night.

2. reproducing? i guess that would rely finding a member of the opposite gender, going through that whole “does (s)he like me, does (s)he not rigmarole, then that awkward courtship phase, then that economically positive dating phase (positive for the economy as a whole that is, not the datees), then that whole spend three paypackets to buy a ring phase (good economics also), then that whole $30,000 wedding phase (really really good for the economy), then that OS honeymoon (good for international markets) and then moving costs, reality cheques (note – pun) and then maybe, just maybe kids’. Maybe we should all hook up with someone else, that would drive the economy forward.