An end to the age of entitlement

The End of the Age of Entitlement.

Perhaps we should restate this as an End to the Age of Enlightenment.

Let us imagine this idea, the End of the Age of Entitlement. Isn't this the end of Government as well? For what does it mean? No-one is entitled to anything. No-one. So you go back to a dog eat dog world where the richest or toughest rule. You can only rely on your friends or family. There will be no social welfare. Old people can look after themselves. Infants can look after themselves. The disabled can look after themselves. Or if they can't, then their friends, their family, or their neighbours can look after them.

Let us examine the idea of entitlement to see what we really mean here. Does Joe Hockey mean "The end of the age of entitlement" for the poor? Or does he mean everyone? Is he prepared to stand by his words.

After all, why do we need public schools and public hospitals? Why is health and education given away? Shouldn't we have to pay for it ourselves? It shouldn't be free. No-one is entitled to anything. So if I need a kidney transplant it is not enough that I was first in the queue, I need to be able to pay for that kidney. really, there is no reason why we should not be able to trade body parts, with the rich having nibs on the best bits. This would make sense if we are to do away with the idea of entitlement.

We would also, of course, have to stop subsidising private schools and hospitals. The rich too would have to pay. Of course the rich can afford to pay, so that won't bother them. But wait a minute, are the rich entitled to be rich? What makes them entitled to their riches? It is the end of the age of entitlement after all. So people just take. People don't produce. So there will be nothing to have. Unless the rich pay the poor to work. Unless the capitalists can force people to be their chattels. Perhaps we can reintroduce slavery. Get workers for free. But what makes the capitalist entitled to a workforce? We've done away with entitlement, so the capitalist is entitled to absolutely nothing.

What about the minerals in the ground? Obviously no one has a better entitlement that anyone else. I guess the strongest and the best can take what they like. But let us imagine that this is the case, that all of society is based on absolutely no entitlement, which means absolutely no government. How do we organise ourselves? How do we create the means of production? How do we farm the land? Remember, the farmer is not entitled to that land. Anybody can go and camp on that land and farm it. But I guess if the farmer has guns he can pretty well enforce his will. Of course he still has to farm the land. This is what society becomes. If society is not governed, if there is no entitlement, then gangs will form, groups will form, to organise themselves. The farmer and his family will work together to create something. It will be a bit like the wild west. The miner and his army of hired thugs and workers will mine out in that wild west. The will organise between themselves and the farmer for trade. They will probably require someone in the middle to organise that trade. So a family of traders will also organise themselves. This is how society develops. This is how a just and enlightened society develops. Mutual cooperation. I find out that I can't trade if I don't have a horse and cart. So I have to get my horse and cart from somewhere. I also need a commodity that can be exchanged between people, maybe gold, maybe banknotes. So we create a system of barter. I can't be looking after my kids whilst I'm doing this, and my wife is busy helping me, so we pay someone to look after and teach our kids. Hell, we even pay a doctor to take care of us when we are sick. And we build a hospital so that the doctor can look after everyone at once. So we organise so that all of us pay a little bit each in order to retain a doctor to work for us. We have created taxation! We have created entitlement.

Entitlement is not something evil, as Joe Hockey would like us to believe. It is something that an enlightened society comes to. We do not look to developing Asian communities to guide our social programs. We try to lead by our own example. We have something to offer. In Australia we have something to offer, a progressive social welfare system that has not bankrupted the country, that affords the essential necessities of life to everyone resident in this country. For we are a humane, compassionate people. Let us not imagine that entitlement is an anomaly. It is a necessity of a mature, moral, socially conscious society.

Joe Hockey, I have heard these words before: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We have government for a reason, to look after people where society fails to look after them. We can't go back one hundred years to when families looked after their own. Society has changed since then. We don't want to return to the lawless days of the wild west. That is madness. We have the means to look after everyone in this country.

In E. F. Schumacher's book, Small is Beautiful, he argued that we do not have an economic problem of scarcity. What we have is an economic problem of distribution. If anything, what needs to be fixed in Australia is the welfare at the top. The fact that rich people DO NOT PAY TAX. The fact that negative gearing has contributed to pushing homes out of the reach of ordinary Australians. The fact that poor working Australians are subsidising the cost of private schools and private hospitals. These poor working Australians are paying perhaps 50% of their wage in rent of mortgage payments. The do not save, they spend. The keep the economic engine turning. Every year bracket creep increases their taxation. During the eleven years of the Howard Government huge tax breaks were afforded to the rich. The rich not only got the low tax cut, but also the high tax cut. Moreover with tools such as negative gearing they were given the means to reduce their tax, or to not pay tax at all. Trusts are one of these tools for minimising their taxation.

Companies are making super profits. Company tax rates are at their lowest since company tax rates were first introduced. The rich are receiving handouts from government but they are not returning it in kind. There is a welfare of the rich that needs to be addressed. There is no entitlement to be wealthy. The suggestion that billionaires have worked hard for their riches is a nonsense. Larry the cleaner works hard too. So does Mary the cabinet maker. And Sue the barkeeper. And Tom the hairdresser. We all work hard for our money, but the disparity between rich and poor has never been greater. It is this disparity that needs to be addressed by radical tax reform, not the so called "age of entitlement."

Speaking of entitlements, parliamentarians have no end of perks and entitlements. Why are they paid more than Larry or Mary or Sue or Tom? Why do they get entitlements that these others don't? Look to yourself, Joe Hockey, and find the log in your own eye before you point out the splinter in the eye of another. This is not the age of entitlement. It is the age of the fat cat. And when we cut some of these fat cats down to size we will indeed have a happier, more robust, humane and compassionate society that every Australian can be proud of.



Great article Noel, pity these words will fall upon deaf ears especially in the mainstream media.