Pauline Hanson, we do not need a Donald Trump, thanks. Get back to 1996 where we thought we left you.
Cory Bernardi - far out. Where did you come from and why do you even exist? We did not have far right politics here once upon a time. There was Tony Abbott, sure. But he was called 'the mad monk' for a reason. Because he was the only one! Why do we have a whole faction of these people now?
And listen, Twitter and Facebook. Despite the above, we do not live in a fascist right-wing dictatorship, so calm the crap down. It's a three-year stint to the next election, the country has not locked itself into a future of doom. I don't mind the odd Get Up! post in my Facebook feed, but I don't want to read political ranting or posts and cartoons from lefty nut job sites masquerading as news or proper commentary.
Listen, everyone: this rabid extremism is exhausting. And we never used to have it. We don't need it! Okay, we need a bit of it. We've always needed a few people on the edges to swing the pendulum where it's needed every now and then. But the system can never live at left or right - it works much better in the middle.
At work last week I listened to people talking about election day and when I heard a young guy say he "walked in, wrote down some random numbers and left", I was almost glad. Ah, political apathy! In the midst of all the ranting, lecturing and scare-mongering that surrounds us lately, it was almost a relief. Maybe this is what we need! Political apathy and laziness might just save us from becoming a nation of shouters!
There is no political party that represents my views. And even if there was I probably wouldn't whole-heartedly support it. But here are my politics in a nutshell:
- Taxes should fund health, education, welfare, transport and essential services, science and innovation and environmental protection. 'Small government' is code for skimping on these things
- But government should limit the things it subsidises - subsidies lead to price hikes and rorting
- There should never be a large national surplus - if there is, infrastructure is being skimped
- Government does need to watch spending and not let debt get out of hand - the budget is important
- Education and health should be a universal right for all citizens, but cannot be completely free.
- University education should not be free but fees should be regulated and student loans should be low-interest. I think our current HECS system is about right.
- Government alone cannot pay for all the services we now expect and require. Some privatisation is essential. Governments can no longer pay for large infrastructure projects; government-private partnerships are essential. The private companies that provide these services/investments will profit from them, and the profit will be at our expense. That's unavoidable. It's government's job to make sure we don't get swindled.
- Some services are not meant to be profitable and should not be expected to be. Hospitals and education need to be accepted as expenses and should not be expected to generate their own funds, beyond small amounts.
- Taxes and government transfers (welfare) inevitably get complex and inefficient in a liberal democracy. Governments have to be fair and accountable and that is expensive. We don't need to wring our hands about our "inefficient" tax system. It will never be fixed.
- Decent public education should be available for all - but providing that is prohibitive, hence the current government fashion for funding private schools to lessen some of the "demand" for public schools. I have no problem with governments funding private schools to some extent - you have to fund them if you want them to conform to national curricula, programs etc - but funding should be minimal and the rest of education funding should be needs-based
- Company taxes should be low, somewhere between 20 and 30%. Even if you loathe them, big corporations are beneficial to an economy, and to a society. Small business is also an important engine in our economy - though there are plenty of crap small businesses out there.
- For an economy to flourish, there has to be some very wealthy people. They are like a side-effect. Economies that don't allow some people to accumulate massive, unfair wealth are stagnant.
- Offshore detention for asylum seekers, and turning back boats, are both awful and indefensible - except if the defence is "they work as a deterrent" which sadly, they appear to do. We should not be doing either of these things - they are cruel and inhumane and wrong. I don't know what we should do instead. Increase aid to UNHCR, increase our refugee intake, increase funding for internal detention centres and processing... all of those things, but none of them will "stop boats" or resolve the massive, international problem of asylum seekers and "economic migrants" - which are actually people living in hopeless circumstances and severe economic distress. Even if we did all those things, the "demand" and the boats would keep coming - what do we do then? I don't know, but not what we're doing now.
- I don't think we need a royal commission into the banking and finance sector. We know it's rotten. We don't need more regulation either - ASIC needs more teeth to police and enforce the regulations we have
- Homelessness should not be a problem to the extent it is - what has gone wrong? There needs to be a full enquiry which no one will hold as no one will want to be held accountable for what comes out of it. But if we're going to hold royal commissions into everything these days, maybe a royal commission into homelessness and poverty wouldn't be a bad thing
- Minimum wages and working conditions need to be protected. I am ambivalent about penalty rates - these days there's no real difference between a Friday and a Saturday, though I do agree people should be compensated for working anti-social hours (I know first hand the toll it takes on family life for example). And we need to make sure we don't become like the US, where people can work full-time jobs and earn less than a living wage
- Gun ownership should be limited and controlled, just as it is now. No changes to our gun laws!
So that's politics according to me.
Now enjoy this flash mob ballroom dancing on a New York crossing courtesy of my new favourite site, Improv Everywhere. If only life was more like this:
Edit: this just in:
Here's a piece of commentary I can agree with (though I like Nick Xenophon myself):
In Turnbull and Shorten we had the pick of two decent leaders - now let's all pull together: