Joe Hockey has made a special effort to be the most noticeable idiot in the Australian Government this week. Anyone who has been paying attention will know this is no easy task with so many idiots to choose from but Hockey has given it a red hot go.
First he was ridiculed for talking about people living to 150, specifically as evidence for why the government’s policy of disemboweling our existing (very popular) health system is a good idea. The LNP mantra is that the Medicare system is unsustainable. Apparently they think a healthy populace isn’t worth having. If they need suggestions for ways to find revenue to fund it I have a few easy ones that don’t involve screwing over poor people. Their prime motivation isn’t fiscal anyway, it’s ideological. And their ideology is “fuck the poor”.
Of course it costs money to keep people healthy, but this extremely limited way of looking at health ignores collateral fiscal benefits like a healthy population that takes less sick days saves employers billions of dollars a year. When LNP types talk about “user pays” what they mean is those on the lowest rung pay as much as possible while those who are already on top gain all the benefits,
The biggest beneficiaries of the health system are employers – they directly benefit from Medicare so if any “user” should pay more, it’s them. This also goes for the infrastructure that allows their employees to get to work (roads and public transport) along with things like water, power, sewage etc. that are an absolute necessity if their businesses are to operate.
The biggest welfare queens in any country are those who already have the most. The lie that “end users” have to pay more while big companies reap more and more government kickbacks is what will kill economies, not higher taxes. So that little rant is slightly off topic – not directly about Hockey saying people will live to 150. But it’s the background as to why he would say something so stupid.
Hockey actually thought he was saying something smart. He said it’s highly likely that somewhere in the world a child has already been born who will live to 150 (not entirely impossible) so therefore today’s health system can’t be sustained because in some theoretical future people will live longer and healthcare for the entire population would cost more. I’m pretty sure Hockey thought he’d hit on a great talking point (policy is hard! talking points are easy!) with the 150 year old population but he’s ended up looking like an idiot. On top of that, how exactly his evil policy today helps a hypothetical future 150 years distant is anyone’s guess.
But how accurate is his 150 year life span idea? In the last century, life expectancy for Australians increased by a little less than 50%. If this rate of increase continued, someone born in 100 years would have a reasonable chance of reaching 120 which would make living to 150 an outlier but not beyond the limits of possibility. But that’s someone born in a century, not someone born now. I know, it’s a dreadful shock to realise Hockey doesn’t understand things like science and statistics. The life expectancy for someone born today is about 80.
Plus there’s no way of knowing how much human lifespan will continue to grow. We could be near the limit now or humans could eventually live beyond 1,000. It’s all conjecture. Jeanne Calment was born in 1875 and she lived to 122 so someone supporting Hockey might say given the general increase in lifespan it’s not unreasonable to say someone born today could live 30 years longer than that. But that’s guessing.
I’ve seen a futurist predict that the first person who will live to 1,000 has already been born. But he looked the type to eat corn chips out of his undies. There are too many variables to make any sort of realistic prediction about even 100 years into the future. The accelerating rate of change could make the turmoil of the last century look placid. Then there are some great big things we know are real, like climate change, that introduce so much volatility into the future that only a fool would try to predict any current trends will be maintained. Which would explain why Hockey thinks he can. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has made some mileage out of the stupidity of Hockey’s 150 year old person statement and on balance, that seems fair enough.
So the “150 year old of the future” rubbish is just Hockey’s absurd justification for screwing over the most vulnerable today. He doubled down by saying on top of taking away from the poor, he has to give to the rich. You see, the wealthiest are taxed too much and he has to lower their tax rates. Hockey blithely claims the wealthy pay 50% of their income in tax and that’s a disincentive to earn more.
This is a straight up lie and it’s a lie he’s repeated several times. Well, maybe he isn’t deliberately lying. Maybe he’s too stupid to know how marginal tax rates work. After all, he’s only the Federal Treasurer, who can expect him to know how the tax system works?
This lie about losing money when you cross a tax threshold is a lie perpetuated by conservatives around the world. “Oh no, if my income goes over $180,000 I’ll pay a higher rate of tax so my take home pay will go home!” No it won’t! The people saying this are either deliberately lying or are so stupid they deserve to have their money taken away from them. When you cross a tax threshold the higher rate is only charged on the money earned above that amount – everything earned up to that point is taxed at lower rates. So you always earn more, you never go backwards because you reached a new tax threshold.
And that’s only half the lie. While the varying tax rates exist on paper, virtually no high income earner pays the tax they should. They employ accountants to find every trick possible to ensure they pay virtually no income tax (most notoriously in the case of Kerry Packer who was Australia’s richest man when he was alive.)
These two pieces of idiocy show the current government’s policy priorities as plain as day. The most vulnerable must be crushed and have everything possible taken from them. Those who already have the most must be given more and more benefits. This government continues to whine that they aren’t able to get their message out to the public – that’s the only reason their policies are so unpopular. The real problem is the public knows all too clearly what their message is – fuck the poor!