With ALP policies in short supply, it falls to the intellectual elite to
keep the ideas rolling to promote a 'progressive' socialist economy, and Mark
(Maddog) Latham has risen to the call. Accordingly, he has come out with a
policy: ownership incentive. Admitting that 'Marx got it wrong', Maddog
says that the key to breaking the poverty cycle is acquisition of capital, and
that this can be broken by ownership incentive schemes - having the government
'contribution match' for assets.
Details are sketchy, but the pilot scheme would involve 150 people and give
them 3 years to save 1500 dollars, and if they made the target, the government
(that means you, dear tax-payer) would put in an equal amount.
It's not clear how the 150 lucky people will be chosen. Friends and family
perhaps? Or some kind of weird Big-Brotherish Australia-wide lottery taken from
the electoral rolls? Would the eligible participants include all Australians,
or would it be means tested? If it were means tested, would the test be on
income or assets? If it were income based, then many
of the participants would already have assets - and so what would be the point?
If it were assets based, then this would effectively mean refusing
someone on a lower income because they were able to save. What is the justice
in refusing to give money to someone on a lower income just because they manage
their money better?
It's also not clear what 'savings' means. If maxing out the credit cards on
the last day and putting the cash-advance into the bank qualifies as 'saving',
then the pilot study is bound to be a success!
Likewise if holding off on buying a home (and putting the money into the
bank instead of using it to pay off a mortgage) qualifies as 'saving' then the
study will be equally successful.
Not so successful though for the taxpayer, who has to pay for this idiocy.
Maddog hasn't said how much the taxpayer would pay for such a scheme, but he's
determined not to be a small target going into the next election. He's pretty
well assured of that - even his fellow ALP members are embarrassed by this
Many idiotic government policies can be polished up to look successful ('if
they only had a little more funding'). This one cannot. It is a
fluffy-dog policy. It sounds good, and uses attractive rhetoric, but as soon as
a concrete proposal emerges, it will be cut away to reveal nothing but fluff.
Ownership incentive cannot be created through theft. The best form of ownership
incentive is to let people keep their own money without stealing it through
taxes, regulation and compulsory acquisition.
Maddog will have to let this one die a quiet death, or allow his credibility as
shadow treasurer suffer a serious blow. This is just the kind of boost Peter
(Smirky) Costello needs to survive Little Johnny's retirement after the next