Thursday, November 01, 2007

Truth in advertising

Andrew Leigh, in today's Financial Review:

"Perhaps what we need is a new campaign advertisement, paid for by “Australians for Helping the Poor and Lowering Taxes”. The commercial could start with a simple visual depiction of how middle class welfare works. A taxpayer hands over five $20 notes. The government representative calmly burns one of them, and hands back the remaining four.

The voiceover could then point out that people enjoy getting the Baby Bonus, but there’s little evidence that scrapping it would affect fertility rates or the wellbeing of new parents (camera shows new parents installing a plasma television). By contrast, an Indigenous child born today can expect to live as long as a non-Indigenous child born at the time of Federation (camera shows scenes from one of a dozen disadvantaged communities). If we scrapped the $1.1 billion Baby Bonus, we could put half the proceeds into tax cuts, and the other half into a series of randomised policy trials of programs designed to improve Indigenous health. Fade to black."