Friday, May 22, 2009

Michael Costa, Parlour games, Astrology with statistical charts, and intergenerational bureaucrats to bring honesty to politics at last

(Above: the NSW Treasury at work on its statistical predictions).

Slaving over a hot machine, and anxious for the weekend to begin, it's only natural to make a final check of loon pond, to make sure everybody will be able to sleep safe and sound in the knowledge that commentariat columnists have made Australia a better place with their scribbling.

And maybe find a little light relief along the way. And sure enough there's Michael Costa, proposing Budget honesty now for the future.

Now you might think this funny enough by itself, seeing as how Costa was a once splendid Treasurer in the now derelict state of NSW, thanks in no small measure to the Labor government in which he served, which regularly treated the budget as an exercise in deviousness.

Why is it that politicians can only talk of honesty in a meaningful, caring way once they've left the game?

Costa is agitated about the reliability of Treasury projections, and after putting in a kind word for head of Treasury Ken Henry, he proceeds to whack the process around the head with a big stick. It seems Treasury is merely playing an intellectual parlour game, a kind of astrology with statistical charts. 

Thank the lord I now understand why NSW is fucked, and the role the state treasury and the recent procession of treasurers have played in the process.

It seems these bozos are no better than Egyptian astrologers trying to work out the way the world works from the movement of the stars. So how come they could build the pyramids and we can't devise a public transport system that runs on time?

Costa spends a little time bucketing Kevin Rudd along the way - well it wouldn't be a Costa column without a little fear and loathing of Rudd - and dismisses Turnbull's  proposal for a parlimentary budget office as a waste of effort and resources.

No, he's got a much better idea, which doesn't involve duplication, and waste of effort and resources at all, but rather a full blown independent office of brand new poo bahs:

In the Australian context what is required, and this budget highlights more than ever, is an independent statutory body that looks after the interests of future taxpayers: an intergenerational budget office.

That's right, a whole new grand level of bureaucracy, run by a new mikado, funded by the government to run a measuring tape over the government, the budget, the treasury, the state governments and anyone else who gets in the road of intergenerational equity.

Well I guess you can take the politician out of politics, but you can't take the Rudd-like desire out of them when it comes to ordering up brand spanking new bureaucracies to devise reports, publish commentaries, and consider very important matters in very important ways.

Is there any wonder the Bush administration blew expenditure out of the water in the United States as an example to neo cons and neo Costas everywhere that the solution is always for governments to piss money against the wall on new toys?

Well it sounds really good to me, this neo intergenerational office. It's going to solve everything:

The IBO would keep the intergenerational issue on the public agenda and force governments to put real measures in place to deal with it. An added benefit of an IBO is that it would expose the dishonesty of politicians in making minor and tokenistic attempts to address long-term budget problems and then dressing them up as path-breaking policy.

An IBO! It's already got its own acronym! Can I call my sand castle on the beach a SCOB? Or the offer of pie in the sky a bit of PIS?

Ah yes, since we can't trust politicians, and we can't trust Treasury, and we certainly can't trust Treasurers, and we can't trust Rudd (and even Malcolm Turnbull seems a bit of a dill) and we can't trust Ken Henry and we can't trust bureaucrats, how to sort out the mess? Well appoint more bureaucrats.

Costa acknowledges that intergenerational accounting is not without its own problems and assumptions, which would have to be made explicit and open to debate. But what worries me is what happens if we get another dense bunch of astrologers playing with statistical charts? And run by someone like Ken Henry?

Have we just forked out a whole bunch of moola for another layer? And do we have to stump up for a review to review the reviewers reviewing the views of the astrologers playing their parlour games?

Well Costa managed to get people terribly excited. Kindly Marcus of Adelaide's thoughts went out to the people of Sydney:

Am I the only person who sees the irony of Australia's worst treasurer suddenly calling for a Statutory Authority to oversee the Federal Treasury? Can't say I'm really surprised - as a member of the Labor Right faction, Costa would love nothing more than to see yet 'another' layer of bureaucracy soaking up the tax dollars of hard-working Australians (no wonder he left the NSW economy in such a 'mess'!) What I find truly amazing is that this plan originated from the supposed champions of 'Small Government' - the Federal Coalition! I guess this merely proves what a 'joke' our Federal Duopoly has become!

No Marcus you're not the only one. But Mick from Parkside (another agitated South Australian?) was a little shorter and blunter

Michael Costa - credibility factor zero. Your very public dummy spit is reaching new heights of absurdity. Get over it, 'cos by Christ we are over you.

Harsh, but fair Mick. All the same, what a whiz bang way to start the weekend here on loon pond. For sheer entertainment value, Michael Costa is the columnist who just keeps on giving ... now I must go consult the sheep's entrails, backed up by my Alister Crowley Tarot cards, to work out my budget for the rest of the year.

By the way, if you want some more light reading to get the weekend off on a cheerful note, dash over to Jack the Insider's blog, wherein he takes the piss out of Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull on an equal opportunity basis, calling them both narcissists in need of bizarre gratification. 

His story about his father - very similar to one of mine - is poignant and funny, but the lashing he reserves for the two politicians is more like a flensing of the whales. Remind me not to get on his wrong side - I bet his wife avoids him in the early moments of the morning when he stumbles out of bed and glares at the world around him. Assuming he is married of course, though one should never make assumptions without running it past the IBO, who could solve my predicament in a minute. Thanks be to Costa. (Jack's here at Love me, love myself).

(Below: advanced futuristic technology soon to be unleashed in Michael Costa's new IBO).

No comments: