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State handouts lead to sense of entitlement

By Greg Cornwell - 25 October 2016 49

Emergency department. Photo: iStock

Elections always result in a bidding war between political parties to attract votes by granting gifts or concessions. Bidding wars are not confined to elections however they are the greatest manifestation and deny the community its responsibilities at the expense of the public purse.

Governments cannot take back these freebies and each of these taxpayer-funded gifts further encourages a sense of entitlement among the population. This overlooks the cost of these services and their contribution to limiting real help to those who need it.

Hospital emergency departments should charge a fee, not to recoup some of the expensive overheads but to remind patients there is a cost. This might encourage people to seek other assistance for frivolous complaints, freeing up services for more serious cases.

Subsidies abound. For having numerous children (never mind population pressures) or childcare (so you can go back to work). So do concessions: pharmaceuticals, transport, rates and rents, for example, and particularly for the elderly, justified because they have paid taxes all of their life (but why should we expect a refund?). Often there is no or inadequate means-testing in granting these benefits. The issue is not that there is a test, deficient as it may be, but that such concessions exist at all.

What is ignored in government largesse is someone has to pay and it is usually those who are perceived to be able to do so, overlooking the effort and sacrifice they might have made to achieve financial comfort. Why should those who spend income in other ways than providing for old age expect to receive the charity of the State?

Further, if those who pay are so charged they will seek ways to minimise these payments and the reduced return to government either will create a bigger deficit or deprive those who do need help from receiving it in proper quantity because others are benefiting who should do without.

The most damning example of misplaced government philanthropy however is in the fields of art and sport.

The arts does not enjoy the populist appeal of sport and thus is funded with care. Nevertheless if people want culture they should pay more for it or do without. Cutting cloth to suit purse would curb extravagances.

Leaving aside profitable ACT land deals (still raising unanswered questions), ongoing financial aid to football codes already backed by poker machine-supported clubs or healthy payments to build and upgrade other sporting venues raise issues of genuine public benefit and indulging minorities. Any claim Canberra benefits by incoming tourist profits from such investment should be backed by publicly released audited accounts, otherwise governments should not have a role at this level and should concentrate upon amateur junior activities, if at all.

We have drifted so far from a sense of personal responsibility it will be a brave government which acknowledges the problem. It will be an even braver administration which attempts to address the community expectations of dependency seemingly now part of our DNA.

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49 Responses to
State handouts lead to sense of entitlement
1
dungfungus 11:21 am
25 Oct 16
#

Given that a Federal coalition government tried and failed to get a $5 co-payment from all freeloaders using the national health system I would give two chances of it happening locally, Buckley’s and none.

Sometime during the next 4 years the excesses of the ACT Labor/Green minority government will come home to roost and it will be interesting to see where the axe falls.

2
wildturkeycanoe 2:32 pm
26 Oct 16
#

Apparently I paid in the order of somewhere between one and two thousand dollars of my tax last year towards the health system. I also paid close to just as much for specialist appointments and other treatments out of my own pocket too. So if you are going to call for the emergency department to become a user pays service, then I will have my tax money back thank you very much. Then I will have the funds available to get help when I desperately need it.
We all pay tax, even those getting government welfare pay tax. Most every item we purchase, our utility bills and other services incur a GST charge. So everyone spending money pays 10% GST to the government on top of the income tax already paid. This means that if you are in a higher income bracket, you pay around 37% tax plus the GST, so effectively they are being taxed nearly half what they earn.
Calling for a user pays emergency department is going to cost lives, there is nothing surer. If you are ill and you haven’t got a credit card with a nice balance, will the ER turn you away, such as in the United States? Will there be an assets test question in the triage paperwork, to determine if you are rich enough to afford treatment? What if you are hanging out for pay day and need urgently to see a GP for a sickness? You simply won’t get an appointment or will have to go into a payment plan to fix the consultation fee. People won’t be able to afford health care and will get sicker, meaning initially there will be less strain on the hospitals, but when these illnesses go untreated and get worse, we will end up with beds full of very sick people. These patients could have been treated earlier, for less cost and would have gone about their daily lives, but now they push the emergency services to the brink.
Prevention is better than cure and for the health of our citizens, that is absolutely true.
Free public health care is one thing that makes Australia great. Other countries in Europe have much better free health services than us and they get along just fine. Do not advocate for the destruction of something that has potentially saved thousands of lives.

3
dungfungus 4:12 pm
26 Oct 16
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Apparently I paid in the order of somewhere between one and two thousand dollars of my tax last year towards the health system. I also paid close to just as much for specialist appointments and other treatments out of my own pocket too. So if you are going to call for the emergency department to become a user pays service, then I will have my tax money back thank you very much. Then I will have the funds available to get help when I desperately need it.
We all pay tax, even those getting government welfare pay tax. Most every item we purchase, our utility bills and other services incur a GST charge. So everyone spending money pays 10% GST to the government on top of the income tax already paid. This means that if you are in a higher income bracket, you pay around 37% tax plus the GST, so effectively they are being taxed nearly half what they earn.
Calling for a user pays emergency department is going to cost lives, there is nothing surer. If you are ill and you haven’t got a credit card with a nice balance, will the ER turn you away, such as in the United States? Will there be an assets test question in the triage paperwork, to determine if you are rich enough to afford treatment? What if you are hanging out for pay day and need urgently to see a GP for a sickness? You simply won’t get an appointment or will have to go into a payment plan to fix the consultation fee. People won’t be able to afford health care and will get sicker, meaning initially there will be less strain on the hospitals, but when these illnesses go untreated and get worse, we will end up with beds full of very sick people. These patients could have been treated earlier, for less cost and would have gone about their daily lives, but now they push the emergency services to the brink.
Prevention is better than cure and for the health of our citizens, that is absolutely true.
Free public health care is one thing that makes Australia great. Other countries in Europe have much better free health services than us and they get along just fine. Do not advocate for the destruction of something that has potentially saved thousands of lives.

But it is not “FREE” here, in Europe or anywhere, can’t you see that?
The problem is that the freeloaders don’t always use the ED for emergencies, it is their first port of call for everything else too.
People are not going to die because they will be denied services if they can’t rustle up the co-payment.

4
John Moulis 5:33 pm
26 Oct 16
#

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

5
dungfungus 10:59 pm
26 Oct 16
#

John Moulis said :

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

I don’t agree with your version of how entitlements came to be, John.

Howard certainly extended them to the wider community but Whitlam was the one responsible for creating the mentality by enabling single mothers to claim welfare benefits.

Unemployment benefits, just $10 a week in 1972, were lifted to the pension level, which itself was raised substantially with women being guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

6
pink little birdie 12:46 am
27 Oct 16
#

The PBS is a great scheme. Often in Countries that have it is cheaper than not having the medicine.
For instance I was previously on a medication that cost the government $1700 a month. That is approximately what I pay in income taxes each month (also making me a decent earner and ineligible for other subsidies). With it I can walk, use my hands work and live a fairly normal life. Without it I would probably now not be able to walk unaided, self care. I wouldn’t be working and probably be on disability for life.
Even if I had to pay for it myself I would be spending and saving significantly less in mainly local businesses such as coffee and meals out as the medicine would come first. I would also probably be living at my mum’s
Oh and it’s a genetic degenerative disease. That hit in my early 20’s and killed my original career plan (phyiscal education – no one wants a teacher hopped up on pain pills all the time and slowly loosing mobility)
The PBS is a great scheme particularly for non essential products and services businesses in Australia. Many people would prioritise medication over a lot of things.
Medical debt including medicatioms is a huge issue in the USA and takes large chunks of money of middle and lower income bracket communities.

7
wildturkeycanoe 6:38 am
27 Oct 16
#

dungfungus said :

But it is not “FREE” here, in Europe or anywhere, can’t you see that?
The problem is that the freeloaders don’t always use the ED for emergencies, it is their first port of call for everything else too.
People are not going to die because they will be denied services if they can’t rustle up the co-payment.

Look up Universal Health Care and see what other countries have to offer the poor in terms of health care. There are plenty of systems that operate better then ours, but the OP seems determined that everyone should pay to go to the hospital, even though we already do.
Poor people go to the ED because they either can’t afford to go to a private practice, are too tight to do so, or they can’t get in to see a doctor because the appointment books are filled up till next week. This is a problem everywhere, even paying customers have to sometimes book way ahead to see the GP, so the backup plan is to go to the hospital ED for immediate attention.
How do you know people aren’t going to die because they can’t afford a GP co-payment or to see the ED if there is a fee attached for services? From the Harvard Gazettte, Sep 17, 2009 – “Nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance, according to a new study published online today by the American Journal of Public Health”.
If you can’t get medical aid because you are too poor to get health insurance, there is the possibilty you will die depending on the circumstances. This is the system our government is trying to push on us. I disagree with it wholeheartedly. Why should life have a price tag put on it?

8
John Moulis 6:52 am
27 Oct 16
#

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

I don’t agree with your version of how entitlements came to be, John.

Howard certainly extended them to the wider community but Whitlam was the one responsible for creating the mentality by enabling single mothers to claim welfare benefits.

Unemployment benefits, just $10 a week in 1972, were lifted to the pension level, which itself was raised substantially with women being guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

I forgot to mention that in the 2007 election campaign (where the Howard government was defeated by Kevin Rudd), John Howard promised in his policy speech to introduce free child care for all parents. Park your kids in a crèche all day and the government will pick up the tab. They also promised an extension to the Education Tax Rebate, a new welfare payment to families with more than three children and a new Family Tax Benefit payment. They also committed to increasing the Baby Bonus to a staggering $7,500.00 by the end of their term.

9
chewy14 7:14 am
27 Oct 16
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Apparently I paid in the order of somewhere between one and two thousand dollars of my tax last year towards the health system. I also paid close to just as much for specialist appointments and other treatments out of my own pocket too. So if you are going to call for the emergency department to become a user pays service, then I will have my tax money back thank you very much. Then I will have the funds available to get help when I desperately need it.
We all pay tax, even those getting government welfare pay tax. Most every item we purchase, our utility bills and other services incur a GST charge. So everyone spending money pays 10% GST to the government on top of the income tax already paid. This means that if you are in a higher income bracket, you pay around 37% tax plus the GST, so effectively they are being taxed nearly half what they earn.
Calling for a user pays emergency department is going to cost lives, there is nothing surer. If you are ill and you haven’t got a credit card with a nice balance, will the ER turn you away, such as in the United States? Will there be an assets test question in the triage paperwork, to determine if you are rich enough to afford treatment? What if you are hanging out for pay day and need urgently to see a GP for a sickness? You simply won’t get an appointment or will have to go into a payment plan to fix the consultation fee. People won’t be able to afford health care and will get sicker, meaning initially there will be less strain on the hospitals, but when these illnesses go untreated and get worse, we will end up with beds full of very sick people. These patients could have been treated earlier, for less cost and would have gone about their daily lives, but now they push the emergency services to the brink.
Prevention is better than cure and for the health of our citizens, that is absolutely true.
Free public health care is one thing that makes Australia great. Other countries in Europe have much better free health services than us and they get along just fine. Do not advocate for the destruction of something that has potentially saved thousands of lives.

The author wasn’t saying we should have a fully user pays health system, he said there should be a fee charged at the ED to stop people using it as their personal GP to drive efficiencies in the system.

The problem we have in this country is exactly the argument displayed by your comment, that health care should be “free”. It isn’t free now, someone is always paying, so why not try and improve the system and ensure its efficiently run?

A small price signal with lower income people protected by a safety net would do just that.

10
dungfungus 8:51 am
27 Oct 16
#

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

I don’t agree with your version of how entitlements came to be, John.

Howard certainly extended them to the wider community but Whitlam was the one responsible for creating the mentality by enabling single mothers to claim welfare benefits.

Unemployment benefits, just $10 a week in 1972, were lifted to the pension level, which itself was raised substantially with women being guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

I forgot to mention that in the 2007 election campaign (where the Howard government was defeated by Kevin Rudd), John Howard promised in his policy speech to introduce free child care for all parents. Park your kids in a crèche all day and the government will pick up the tab. They also promised an extension to the Education Tax Rebate, a new welfare payment to families with more than three children and a new Family Tax Benefit payment. They also committed to increasing the Baby Bonus to a staggering $7,500.00 by the end of their term.

Indeed he did John, however they were prosperous times and a lot of us saw that as a social dividend. Also, sovereign debt was neglible.

Rudd “trumped” Howard using the GFC (which was never an Australian problem) as an excuse to give $900 cheques to everybody, even dead people, and the rest is economic history.

11
pink little birdie 10:58 am
27 Oct 16
#

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

I don’t agree with your version of how entitlements came to be, John.

Howard certainly extended them to the wider community but Whitlam was the one responsible for creating the mentality by enabling single mothers to claim welfare benefits.

Unemployment benefits, just $10 a week in 1972, were lifted to the pension level, which itself was raised substantially with women being guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

I forgot to mention that in the 2007 election campaign (where the Howard government was defeated by Kevin Rudd), John Howard promised in his policy speech to introduce free child care for all parents. Park your kids in a crèche all day and the government will pick up the tab. They also promised an extension to the Education Tax Rebate, a new welfare payment to families with more than three children and a new Family Tax Benefit payment. They also committed to increasing the Baby Bonus to a staggering $7,500.00 by the end of their term.

Indeed he did John, however they were prosperous times and a lot of us saw that as a social dividend. Also, sovereign debt was neglible.

Rudd “trumped” Howard using the GFC (which was never an Australian problem) as an excuse to give $900 cheques to everybody, even dead people, and the rest is economic history.

The cheques to dead people thing that people go on about displays a total lack of understanding of how our tax system works.
The deceased people who received cheques died in the new financial year, had a eligible previous tax return and their families had not yet submitted their final tax return (which tells the tax department that they are deceased).
Also the $900 cheques kept people spending in the retail sector which is a fairly large employer.

12
Deref 11:24 am
27 Oct 16
#

They certainly do lead to a sense of entitlement.

The sooner we cut the umbilical and stop companies and the wealthy sucking on the public teat, the sooner we can use taxes to do the important stuff – improving public health and education.

13
dungfungus 2:21 pm
27 Oct 16
#

pink little birdie said :

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

I don’t agree with your version of how entitlements came to be, John.

Howard certainly extended them to the wider community but Whitlam was the one responsible for creating the mentality by enabling single mothers to claim welfare benefits.

Unemployment benefits, just $10 a week in 1972, were lifted to the pension level, which itself was raised substantially with women being guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

I forgot to mention that in the 2007 election campaign (where the Howard government was defeated by Kevin Rudd), John Howard promised in his policy speech to introduce free child care for all parents. Park your kids in a crèche all day and the government will pick up the tab. They also promised an extension to the Education Tax Rebate, a new welfare payment to families with more than three children and a new Family Tax Benefit payment. They also committed to increasing the Baby Bonus to a staggering $7,500.00 by the end of their term.

Indeed he did John, however they were prosperous times and a lot of us saw that as a social dividend. Also, sovereign debt was neglible.

Rudd “trumped” Howard using the GFC (which was never an Australian problem) as an excuse to give $900 cheques to everybody, even dead people, and the rest is economic history.

The cheques to dead people thing that people go on about displays a total lack of understanding of how our tax system works.
The deceased people who received cheques died in the new financial year, had a eligible previous tax return and their families had not yet submitted their final tax return (which tells the tax department that they are deceased).
Also the $900 cheques kept people spending in the retail sector which is a fairly large employer.

I could equally say that

14
dungfungus 3:49 pm
27 Oct 16
#

pink little birdie said :

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

John Moulis said :

Greg, you forgot to mention that the entitlement mentality in this country was fostered by the Howard government, probably the worst government in this country’s history.

Prior to John Howard welfare was seen as a last resort. In fact is was quite shameful to go onto welfare because you felt as if you had failed. However Howard and Costello created the middle class welfare monster and mainstreamed welfare handouts in order to hang onto the Howard battler seats and woo families who were the favoured ones for that government. Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit, Schoolkid’s Bonus, even bonus payments for pensioners and war veterans every Budget day. Unlike the battlers who thought welfare was shameful, the middle class recipients of welfare felt entitled to it and saw any attempt to interfere with it as an attack on the family.

It will be many years before the damage Howard and Costello did to this country and the national psyche will be overcome.

I don’t agree with your version of how entitlements came to be, John.

Howard certainly extended them to the wider community but Whitlam was the one responsible for creating the mentality by enabling single mothers to claim welfare benefits.

Unemployment benefits, just $10 a week in 1972, were lifted to the pension level, which itself was raised substantially with women being guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

I forgot to mention that in the 2007 election campaign (where the Howard government was defeated by Kevin Rudd), John Howard promised in his policy speech to introduce free child care for all parents. Park your kids in a crèche all day and the government will pick up the tab. They also promised an extension to the Education Tax Rebate, a new welfare payment to families with more than three children and a new Family Tax Benefit payment. They also committed to increasing the Baby Bonus to a staggering $7,500.00 by the end of their term.

Indeed he did John, however they were prosperous times and a lot of us saw that as a social dividend. Also, sovereign debt was neglible.

Rudd “trumped” Howard using the GFC (which was never an Australian problem) as an excuse to give $900 cheques to everybody, even dead people, and the rest is economic history.

The cheques to dead people thing that people go on about displays a total lack of understanding of how our tax system works.
The deceased people who received cheques died in the new financial year, had a eligible previous tax return and their families had not yet submitted their final tax return (which tells the tax department that they are deceased).
Also the $900 cheques kept people spending in the retail sector which is a fairly large employer.

Both you and I are aware of that but obviously Rudd and his minions weren’t. They were the ones who had “a complete misunderstanding of how things work”. Even though the payments were structured on taxable income levels which the ATO would obviously have the information on, the programme should have first sent out letters (one of the best forms of identity audit) to all approved participants and they could have then made a claim. A lot of people did not want the money.

Similarly, the pink bats stimulus was badly thought out with tragic consequences.

All the stimulus programmes were funded by borrowed money for which we are still paying interest on by borrowing more money.

You are quite correct to say the money was spent in the retail sector which was then a big employer. Not so now though, is it.

The problem with stimulus programs is that the suck up tomorrows demand today. Sooner or later the supply/demand situation will have to revert. That’s when the tears will start to fall.

15
chewy14 9:33 pm
27 Oct 16
#

Deref said :

They certainly do lead to a sense of entitlement.

The sooner we cut the umbilical and stop companies and the wealthy sucking on the public teat, the sooner we can use taxes to do the important stuff – improving public health and education.

Interesting that you think the government taking less of a person’s money is somehow equivalent to that person sucking on the public teat.

Although I do agree with you that if we cut wasteful and unnecessary entitlements and concessions we can use the extra money for important stuff – like lowering the overall tax burden for the vast majority of taxpayers who don’t have access to those entitlements or concessions.

Those people can then personally choose what they believe is important and spend accordingly.

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