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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Thoughts to end the month on

 

Another month gone! Old accountant's habits never die and, more out of curiosity than necessity, I have been keeping tabs on our living expenses since the beginning of this year.

I'm surprised by what little money we need to live a comfortable life. On average, we spend about $2,500 a month and that includes everything: food and drinks (fewer Tim Tams and more cask wine), clothing (very little; still wearing out my old dinner suits while gardening), fuel and car maintenance (small car; little mileage), electricity (not much needed when you're in bed by nine o'clock), insurances (including private health insurance), telephone and broadband (few calls out as I'm doing more talking to the animals now), council rates (going up all the time; as a self-funded retiree I don't qualify for a rebate), maintenance jobs around the house (DIYs and the ones that cost $65 an hour), and even pocket-money.

That's an annual $30,000 and it makes me absolutely livid when I hear all those do-gooders and social welfare bodies constantly belly-aching about "The Government" (meaning, other hard-working taxpayers) not paying enough when the current age pension is already a very adequate and indeed generous $1,317.40 a fortnight for a couple - or well over $34,000 a year - click here. And then there is rent assistance of up to $172.90 a fortnight - another $4,500-plus a year - click here.

But those cash payments are just the tip of the proverbial because there's also free housing, free medical treatment, free medication, free trains and buses, even concessional postage stamps, and enough other freebies and concessions to fill a whole book - in fact, there used to be a 'Dole Bludger's Guide to Australia'. Today, there are internet sites - click here - which teach bludgers how to squeeze more out of the system.

Every civilised society needs a welfare 'safety net' for the weak and vulnerable but that safety net shouldn't be turned into a soft inner-spring mattress with a cosy doona on top! It shouldn't be so generous or so easy to get that it ends up discouraging hard work and self-reliance. Those who can work must work and those able to provide for their own retirement must do so.

There are always those who claim that it's an 'entitlement' because "we paid our taxes for it!" Well, if this were so, then those who paid lots of taxes would get lots and those who paid nothing would get nothing. The fact that all get the same makes it WELFARE.

Even if ALL their taxes had gone towards their age pension - and who would then be left to pay for the running of the country? - it would never be enough to cover their age pension for another ten, twenty, perhaps even thirty years of retirement. Anybody who's ever tried to buy an annuity could tell them that!

I once tried to tell this to my retired neighbour in Townsville who confided in me that, after a lifetime of earning lots of money in mining, he had buried it all in kerosene tins in his garden - I kid you not! - so that he would qualify for the government pension. I figured that he missed out on more interest than he got in welfare but he was not persuaded because "I paid my taxes for it!" When I revisited Townsville in 1985, I heard he had died and the house been sold. I nearly told the new owners to start digging! ☺

Of course, under our crazy rules, people can live in multi-million-dollar mansions and still claim welfare which means that many put all their money into their houses and then cry poor. And I know of couples who separated - at least 'on paper' - so as to receive fortnightly $873.90 EACH instead of the combined $1,317.40. The length some people go to for another eleven thousand dollars a year is amazing!

It's an insane and unsustainable system (for those who're footing it; mainly generations yet unborn) but perhaps no more insane and unsustainable than when Germany pays out $50-billion-plus every year to house and feed the same people that now terrorise the country.