You Thatcherites by name, lend an ear, lend an ear

John Howard reclaims the upper ground. According to…John Howard.

John Howard has declared there has been a change in the political air, with Kevin Rudd taking “two torpedoes” in recent days on the crunch issue of economic management.

Those were “social equity” and “productivity”. The former came on the heels of a survey of incomes:

New figures have shaken the widely held contention that the Howard Government is lavishing middle Australia with welfare while the genuinely needy go without.

I’ll need to get second opinions on how widely-held that contention was. I hadn’t thought so. I always figured our tax structure was like many these days – landing on the middle-class, light on the Very Wealthy.

The survey by the ABS found that

The average household pays total taxes of $360 a week, but gets back $375 in both cash benefits and government services, such as health and education. Tax raised from the corporate sector covers the difference.

I reckon this means if you have kids. If you don’t have children, Costello really doesn’t stay up worrying about you, offer you cash or do much about the services you require.

The productivity we’ve seen here, already. It was the news that IR restructuring easily spanning the Keating years has not-surprisingly paid off. I honestly can’t see how either of these are torpedoes for Kevin Rudd: after 16 years of expansion I’m surprised low-income households aren’t doing better still, and the labour productivity can’t seriously be new information. But then I don’t read crappy Murdoch papers or watch Today Tonight. I’m not even close to an average voter.

The remainder of the interview given by the Prime Minister was standard pre-election fare. I suspect:

    • State Labor governments are borrowing money for their spending, ergo you can’t trust Labor (no mention of what they’re spending on, whether the Federal government should have been taking a share of it instead of trying to steal control of the water, or even whether the projects are things we want and are happy to pay for).
    • State governments are Labor, and if you elect Labor you’ll have wall-to-wall Labor. Howard should just point out how ass-headed the Libs got when they controlled both houses of Parliament. That might help his point.
    • Unemployment is wonderfully low, and Howard can make it go lower. Apparently he can make the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment disappear. This goes into the same category, for me, as his promises of no interest rate hikes last time around. If you have an Economics degree you’ll laugh, but most people don’t have economics degrees.
    • If you’re a young family with children you can’t afford not to stick with the Liberals.
    • If you have a mortgage you can’t afford not to stick with the Liberals.
  • How, you wonder, do those last two work? A decade of wedge politics, scaremongering, weaselly-worded snideness in politics has clearly Rovean-delineated (that’s Karl, not McManus) sub-sections of our electorate exactly as nervous and ill-informed as John Howard and Channel Nine can make them.

    Obviously Howard has things like the Australian with him – so when he calls something a torpedo, the Australian calls is a torpedo, instead of “hey, that’s funny. Didn’t you blow several billions dollars for years and years on submarines that could barely keep from sinking?”

    I also noted interest rates weren’t mentioned. I suspect the Prime Minister doesn’t fancy his chances at all on that one. When they go up, it will no doubt be all the more evidence of how well the Howard Great Economic Leap Forward is going, although at the moment I don’t easily see the spin he’ll give those mortgage-holders. Mind you, with all those budget surpluses behind him he won’t have to – there’s more than money enough for some kind of electoral bribe, I’m sure.

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