18 May 2009

Via's Budget Reply

Mr Swan, the Australian Government's treasurer, has recently told us how much treasure is available to serve the needs of the Australian public and their needy neighbours for at least the next twelve months. The amount of treasure, Mr Swan says, has dwindled over the last year mainly because people in other countries are not buying as many bits of Australia that have been dug out of the ground here.

As well as the main Australian Government collecting treasure from people like me and the mining companies, some treasure is collected by our Federal system's State Governments, and by the local council's who are meant to do the jobs delegated to them by the State and Federal Governments. All of the treasure is then shared around by whoever the Australian people have elected to control our biggest piggy banks.

What's in it for me?

Most people want to know what is in a government's budget, mainly for reasons of self-interest (although I hope I am not in this category). I am not a construction worker, a pensioner, a parent, an employee, an employer, a shareholder in a large construction company, a high income earner, and do not fit into many other categories that are covered in government budgets and tax return forms. In many years, I have not needed to fill in a tax return at all because my personal income has been so low, especially when my activities were mainly those of a student and/or volunteer.

Now, though, I have a small business. It is not a capital intensive little business, just one in which I offer to assist others in reaching their higher goals in life. I benefit from Mr Swan's budget statement mainly because of the doubling of the low income tax offset. It just means I will pay less tax on my low income than previously.

Investing in the future

I do not have private health insurance. This is not necessarily because of its cost, but because it props up insurance companies rather than making an improvement in health. I think the tax refunds given for having private health insurance are an obscenity. I believe that good health care should be provided on the basis of need, and based on evidence.

It is not that I am against most private health providers. I use them myself from time to time, on a pay as you go basis, especially when I do not want to wait for too long before my health needs receive attention. But I would rather look after my health in other ways first, and allow my body and mind to heal themselves with minimal, appropriate guidance.

Although I do not have any superannuation, I am the sort of person who saves regularly, with compounding interest in a high security account. It means that my capital has gained in value while other people have seen theirs dwindle.

I usually try to live my life now as I hope to be living it if I am fortunate enough to reach the age of 70 or 80 in reasonably good health. My investment motto is to save during a boom and to spend during a slump. I see booms and slumps in personal terms as well as ones that apply in the broader economic context.

Spend, spend, spend?

My personal slump has not yet arrived so I am still saving. I am, though, still buying things I need. For example, last week I bought a pair of slippers for the winter. The week before that, I bought an extra pair of the sandals I found to be very comfortable over the summer.

This week, I need more ink for my printer. Yesterday, my husband (the angel one) and I went to our local library to drop off some magazines we had borrowed. There was a shelf of free used books being given away so I have added five titles to my business library, one on the education of journalists, and the angel one now has a book on how to build doorways. He hopes one day to have the time to do some home renovations. We both like the satisfaction of creating things ourselves.

It is never too early or too late to become an entrepreneur, or any sort of creative person. How, though, has Mr Swan's budget enhanced the creativity of Australians?

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