Generations change, but the game remains the same

I tried to ignore it, but Employment Services Minister Mark Arbib’s resurrection of the (Tony Abbott?) “job snobs” line has turned into yet another tiresome round of the generation game. This time it’s Generation Y who are copping the flak for being “Generation Lazy”, a collection of job-hoppers and dole bludgers.

How many times must these cannonballs fly? Arbib (born 1971) was barely out of nappies when the phrase “dole bludgers” was coined and applied to the unemployed members of Generation Jones (the younger boomers who missed out on the fun of the 60s), a group to which I briefly belonged. That continued right through the late 1970s, and into the recession of the early 1980s. And even before that, the older boomers had been routinely labelled as work-shy hippies.

The recession of the 1990s hit all groups of the population, with older workers suffering even more than youth. Still, the old cliches were dragged out and applied to Gen X-ers (remember the Paxtons?)

Now the economy has soured again, and Gen X bosses and pollies are kicking their Gen Y subordinates. If the slowdown drags on as long as I expect, it will be the turn of Gen Z/Millennial/Potter before long.

As I said back in 2000

Much of what passes for discussion about the merits or otherwise of particular generations is little more than a repetition of unchanging formulas about different age groups Ð the moral degeneration of the young, the rigidity and hypocrisy of the old, and so on.

You couldn’t get a better example than the latest round of recycled cliches.

89 thoughts on “Generations change, but the game remains the same

  1. “TerjeP (say tay-a), a flat tax is discriminatory.”

    ???

    Do you mean regressive? That would be incorrect, nevertheless.

    Can you come up with a tax that doesn’t discriminate at all, in any way?

    It is also fairly obvious that anyone not participating in the black economy will be unfairly discriminated against.

    Terje BTW is referring to a linear tax.

  2. Mark Hill, one only needs to read up on the introduction of ie the VAT and how it benefitted higher income earners at the expense of those less well off.

  3. Please refer me to something I should read.

    The GST exemptions for example favour the wealthy in terms of what they spend in proportion on those items relative to their incomes.

    Welfare recipients can be helped by an adjustment of the NIT or basic income rate – but what actually matters is what the total tax rate is and how that affects their disposable income. Having a more efficient tax system could give them higher disposable incomes, before increased growth occurs.

  4. @Mark Hill

    “Moving towards an NIT [Negative Income Tax] isn’t perfect either since it unfortunately would still have a lot of churn and inefficient undeserving , although eliminating a lot of it”.

    Those features are engineered out in the approach I suggested in the Henry Tax Review submission I mentioned above (the later one, not the retirement income one). That is effectively a Negative Payroll Tax. The same engineering out also delivers faster results and no funding problems during any delays that might arise from other causes.

  5. Struth Mark Hill, my papers are packed away but if my recollection is correct studies conducted in early 1980s showed the introduction of the VAT coupled with a decrease in corporate and top personal income taxes benefitted high income earners by as much as $100 a week. Maybe John can direct you to some of the early papers.

  6. Listen Terje and others – I was talking to a working MUM tonight (married). Do you people have any idea at all about what childcare costs???? Well – Ill tell you. Not an upmarket childcare centre – just an average run of the mill centre at Ryde (not even at Macquarie uni where she works because she finds that too expensive)

    Get this – one set of twins about a year and a half old and one 3 year old.

    $90 per day for EACH twin and $70 a day for the 3 year old. This woman works to barely break even after childcare costs of $250 per day. Thats $1250 per week. Thats in excess of 50K per year.

    How on earth do single mothers cope??/ How???

    You want them to work and save a nest egg for retirement Terje – (you libertarians) so they can pay for their own retirement (while you pay less taxes).

    Tell me how they do it Terje because I am at a complete loss. So all your one rule fits all linear taxes or flat taxes or combos dont sit well with me.

    Discriminatory and nothing less. Something HAS to be done about childcare costs if you expect people (women especially) to fund their own retirements.
    This lovely modelled one rule for all damn well doesnt work. You need to have a good look at what you are doing – you can scream all you like about people paying their own way, but look at why they cant? Thats off the radar isnt it.

    Childcare – provide it if you want women to fund their own retirements in the libertarian small government small tax view!!
    (oh the stupidity and blindness of men – its enough to give me indigestion..!)

  7. Alice, there is so much pain there that I do not see how to get past that without inadvertently touching a sore point. But I’ll try.

    There isn’t anything that can be done that would actually help with child care costs, while families and work places are structured as they are. That’s because there is too much need chasing too few resources – I won’t put supply and demand because I’m also talking about needs that people can’t pay for, etc. The only way out involves taking away some of the need, i.e. arranging for many families to be able to look after their own needs. I am not talking about pushing women out of the work force and back into the home, but about taking the strain off those who want to stay in the work force by helping those who want to get out of it, because that would reduce the load on available child care resources. If it can’t be done, it can’t be done – but adding funds to the existing set up just wouldn’t cut it.

    As for women not saving enough to retire on, it’s part of a wider problem for people generally, one of getting rid of barriers to employment. Solving that would help women just as it would others, whether directly by offering work or indirectly by putting more income into families. Again, this does not involve getting women who want to work to stop, only raising general levels of adequacy so that resources go to individuals through families and vice versa, with people who want to do it one way taking the load off those who prefer the other way. Behind it all, there is a need to fix the structural problems of the economy, and focussing on women’s needs would leave those in full force. It’s not dismissive of women’s needs to turn away from those and address the other stuff, because it’s the other stuff that’s causing the immediate problems and just addressing those would achieve nothing.

  8. Alice I have three young kids so I know the price of child care. And when the kids were younger we lived in Ryde so I probably even know the child care centre in question.

    There are several things driving up the cost of childcare.

    1. Industry regulation. There is this constant push to enforce higher qualifications for childcare workers (and hence higher labour costs).

    2. Childcare rebates.

    The childcare centre we used in Ryde was always asking us to sign petitions pleading for parents to be given more government rebates. I tried to be polite about it but I wasn’t going to feed the problem.

    The mum you refer to is married and is close to break even on the deal. In fact after tax she is possibly even losing money. Ditch the rebate and she or her husband might finally smell the roses, and one of them stay home and look after the kids themselves (nice for the kids). This would immediately open up space for others and at the margin it would reduce the price pressure on childcare places.

    When the kids were younger I looked at our tax situation and figured my effective marginal tax rate was about 85% due to income tax and the phase out of family tax benefits. So I went back to a four day week and looked after the kids one day a week.

    Of course we could alter the economics and continue to keep high skilled mums (and dads) in the work force by cutting tax rates. But we have this weird idea that society benefits when already scarce skills are more highly taxed. So all up comparatively unskilled childcare workers without the right bits of paper are now unemployed or working at Coles in jobs they hate whilst overtaxed high skilled mums and dads can’t find affordable childcare and stay at home instead.
    Welcome to your socialist paradise.

  9. @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje – when my boy was young he went to community childcare and it was $12 a day.
    Childcare should not be in private hands. Sweden provides very effective “socialised” (try not to shudder Terje) childcare and they have a very low rate of single mums on welfare and A very high rate of participation in the labour force for the same, relative to us (is Australia a misogynistric society – Im beginning to wonder). Your view is ideologically biased and now you are blaming the failures of childcare on inadequate deregulation, when in fact it is privatisation (Eddy and other subsidy bounty hunters from the private sector) that is the underlying problem here.

    You cant kick and penalise people like single mums to go to work Terje when it itsnt worth their while to do so and ultimate poverty only creates more problems. Go look at Swedens progress in this area and stop making excuses for a system that is failing mothers and creating more welfare, not less. In fact the childcare system is stuffed (pardon the expression but there is no other word for it) – and it would be cheaper to provide public childcare when netted out against welfare costs I would suggest.

    No point in maintaining a bias to private sector operation of childcare centres if it means we save two cents on running centres, and end up paying more for welfare for these mums whilst ordinary married mums and dads are also forking out much much more as well (and now they charge for everything – food, nappies, you name it – its all plus plus).

    Its a complete rip off and a disaster for all families, not just single mums.

  10. @P.M.Lawrence
    PM – if we want to reduce welfare costs I would suggest the outrageous cost of childcare is the single largest barrier to increased labour force participation. For a single parent with two or three children under school age – or lets say even with one child under school age – (childcare still amounts to about 25K a year) – that precludes them taking jobs under 40-50K almost. That is insanity. That is well above the true average wage of 27K. Cant you see that? Obtaining a job worth more so that they can clear the cost and provide for their families may actually be impossible for many of these parents. They would need at least another 20K on top and that wont go far with a few kids and paying rent. Thats still poverty in my book.

  11. Alice, I do see that. I merely point out that no action simply directed at the cost of child care or at parents’ financial means of paying it can help – because it would simply make the horizon recede by bidding prices up enough to claw back any gains. The only way to address the issue is to turn away from it and reduce the number of people needing it.

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