Are we Crazy?

by Frank 11. March 2012 06:00

I am luckier than most because I live on the edge of the city and only 1Km or so from my office. However, that 1Km is an Everest-like climb up hundreds of steps and not on when I am carrying all the gear (iPad, research papers, laptop, etc.) I religiously carry to and from work (yes, I own my own business and need to work when home).  So, I drive and it takes fifteen to twenty minutes depending upon how congested our city is and what time of day I leave for work (the earlier the better).

The traffic is awful because our road systems have been assiduously ignored by generation after generation of incompetent politicians and bureaucrats totally focussed on the now and not the future. They have hidden their incompetence under the great green banner (cars are evil and cause climate change) and generations of gullible voters have actually bought this crap. The end result is a grossly under-capitalised and under-maintained road system with few alternatives for the vast bulk of commuters because our public transport system was also underfunded by the same politicians and bureaucrats. They ignored our need for a better transport system and instead added tens of thousands of public servants to the payroll instead of investing in infrastructure. So, in the state where I live we have the worst of both worlds; a rubbish road system and a rubbish public transport system.

In the last fifteen years or so the ‘solution’ has been public-private partnerships and toll roads. In most cases, public roads have been narrowed and lanes taken away for 24 hour bus lanes and bicycle lanes to force long-suffering commuters into the expensive toll roads. Now these same toll roads are virtual parking lots with average speeds below 20 or 30 Km per hour; we are paying to sit in traffic jams. How clever of the politicians and bureaucrats to come up with this twist. “Let’s just not make them suffer, let’s make them pay to suffer!” Oh, and of course the tolls are cleverly ‘indexed’ so the cost continues to rise faster than inflation and at the same time the services levels continue to drop as average commute times rise.

The same idiots that under-invested in transport also closed railway lines and stations because the grossly-inefficient bureaucracy was unable to run them profitably. We now have thousands more trucks on the roads because the railroad system (the most efficient way to transport goods) has been emasculated by successive short-thinking governments.

Everyone says we don’t have an alternative because most of us have to earn a living and most jobs require us to be at the workplace. So, we continue to suffer and the transport system continues to deteriorate and the population continues to grow further exacerbating an already intolerable situation.

Is there a better alternative? Politically none of the existing major parties have the gumption, the imagination or the vision to solve the problem; they are all happy to make promises and then to sit fat and happy, snouts deeply into the public-funded trough enjoying the benefits of maintaining the status quo. I also don’t see any new political party with the vision required to make any difference. It is as if they all realize that it is far easier to make and break promises than to actually do something.

We are lost in a sea of mediocrity with no sight of land on the horizon and no life-saving breeze. It is no wonder that road-rage is a major problem or that that depression is a disease of epidemic proportions. Commuters are stressed to the hilt before they even get to work.

So if we can’t rely on our politicians to fix the problem what should we do? We can’t just resign because we all have responsibilities and bills and families and mortgages and car payments and school fees and the like. Making sure we are heavily indebted is part of the system because it ensure we continue to work and pay taxes.

Personal bankruptcy isn’t an option for most of us. We also can’t refuse to pay tolls and sales taxes on cars and gasoline on the basis that we aren’t getting what we paid for.  The government cleverly opts out of normal consumer protection laws that apply if we buy a commercially available product that isn’t fit for purpose. There is no protection for consumers against governments that lie and fail to deliver what they promise. I often wonder why that is; why do we have parliamentary privilege and why do we allow politicians to enjoy the benefits of office after they have lied to us?

The answer of course is that the public sector (government) has become the public master. The public sector no longer serves us; we serve the public sector. It is our job to pay enough in taxes (and tolls and levies and fees and charges and licence fees and stamp duty, etc., etc.) to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed. Hell, I imagine they even get mad if we take time off or become unemployed because we are not contributing taxes and are threatening the good life our politicians and bureaucrats enjoy.

A fundamental part of this awful system is to re-direct monies from things like infrastructure spending into salaries and pensions and benefits for our huge public sector. And, on those few occasions when a large investment in infrastructure is required, the public sector borrows the money instead of allocating it from the tax income they already receive.  They are stealing from you today and borrowing against your grandchildren’s future. They are even borrowing to pay inflated pensions when the economy is in a downturn. I bet most of you would like some of that borrowed money in your pension fund.

I don’t have a guaranteed pension pegged at a high percentage of my final salary; do you? Yet most public servants and politicians have guaranteed pensions paid regardless of where the economy is. I bet that the rest of the workforce (the people who actually create the wealth) would love to have the same system in place instead of being at the mercy of the stock market and the avaricious superannuation funds (that all make money even when you don’t).

Why did we let this happen? Are we all crazy or masochists or just plain stupid? They talk about lambs to the slaughter; compared to us lambs are geniuses.

We also have present-day Europe to study and to see what awaits us in the near future. I read an article yesterday where the author called Europe the world’s greatest Ponzi scheme and he was brilliantly correct. Keep borrowing money to pay the outgoings until a time comes when you can’t borrow any more. We are emulating Europe and will follow them down the same road to ruin unless we all wake up and accept the fact that there should not be any free lunches for anyone, especially public servants and politicians.

However, how do you change a system when it is in the best interests of the people running the system to perpetuate the status quo? Who are you going to call, the Ghostbusters?

The system is broken in this country just as it is broken in Europe and the USA. You can’t run your household by borrowing more than you earn (not for long anyway) and you can’t run a state or a country like that either. The time will come when the Piper needs to be paid. We can all blame the hedge funds for taking advantage of a bad situation but they didn’t create the underlying problem; we did by continuing to support politicians who lied to us and promised us more than we could afford in order to stay in office. The root problem is greed and it always has been greed. Greed exacerbated by the gullibility and outright stupidity of us voters, all of us expecting a free lunch.

They say you get what you deserve and in our case that is absolutely true.

The only long term solution is for us is to start living within our means, as families, as local governments, as states and as a country. Sadly, I don’t see that happening any time soon so get used to the chaos and ever rising cost of living because there is no end in sight without a quantum change in our attitude as citizens of this great country.

Maybe I need to start a new political party, one committed to (a much) smaller government, a balanced budget, politicians and public servants on the same pension system as us workers and new rules that would enable us to force liars out of office? Problem is, where would I find all those honest politicians? Then again, it could be that they are all currently employees of private enterprise or business owners like me, similar-minded and absolutely fed up with the current system.

Something has to change and I fear that it is up to us ordinary, hard-working people to make it happen.  Are you ready for change? How would you make it happen? Do you care about your grandchildren’s future?

Comments (2) -

Michelle Australia
5/22/2012 12:59:49 AM #

Yes we are all crazy for letting idiots run our country!


Chris Australia
5/23/2012 8:54:00 PM #

The pension benefits are insane and I''m concerned that the fact its been passed and allowed to be this way what other laws went through the same method of approval that the public disagree with as unanimously as this.

A smaller government may not be the solution, however smaller spending on public servants and politicians benefits is a good start for change.
I wonder how many citizens agree that the new rules for teachers should apply to public servants and politicians also; i.e. a structured salary package where it is based on performance.


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