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The Forum > Article Comments > Can governments solve community problems? > Comments

Can governments solve community problems? : Comments

By Vern Hughes, published 27/9/2005

Vern Hughes argues that governments cannot solve community problems.

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Vern you raise some good pointe there and in theory I agree with the notion that governments cannot replace the individual drive that must motivate citizens to accept responsibility for their own destinies, either in the family or community setting.

HOWEVER....government also has the ability to shape the nature of the public economic and social marketplace and community attitudes, via legislation, government debate and by media influence. Government can either severely restrict or allow activity that may be directed from other sources of economic power. In this way it can create conflicts of interest between groups. Weaker social groups are often disadvantaged. Financially powerful self-interested groups may influence government decision-making unfairly.

I work on behalf of a non-profit community group that is actively trying to raise public awareness about the dangers of poker machines and the harms they cause to unsuspecting individuals, families and communities. We find it difficult to make it publicly known that poker machines are inherently dangerous pieces of machinery, akin to asbestos, a dangerous product. By their nature these machines cause addiction by acting upon normal human brain reasoning processes. Humans do not need to be 'irresponsible' to become addicted.

The gaming industry is economically powerful enough to influence a financially needful government, to maintain these dangerous machines, supposedly offered as harmless forms of 'recreation' for most people.

We hear of problem gamblers, but not of problem poker machines or problem government. Individuals are harmed by legislation that should protect them. Communities are bled dry.

In Victoria, the Monash local governmenty area loses $10 million every month from spending on poker machines. Such huge loss is replicated throughout much of Victoria and weakens our communities despite our efforts to prevent harm. Citizen opinion is ignored by government.

Whilst we cannot expect government to save us from every problem in life, we should be able to expect government to provide the appropriate public environment where we may keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe from industry or other harms.
Posted by banpokies1, Tuesday, 27 September 2005 12:00:22 PM
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Here, here, Vern, one of the more rational and libertarian posts I've encountered on this forum in a while. If you are looking for a voice advocating less government intervention across all fields of Australian life, you might like to visit www.libertarian.org.au and share your thoughts, or be directed to the Liberal Democratic Party, www.ldp.org.au.
Posted by Brendan Halfweeg, Tuesday, 27 September 2005 6:15:14 PM
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We are coming to the place where Australians are growing up - no longer will we be able to shift the responibility on to "someone else" be that the Government.
Yes - we must safeguard those in need with a hand up when valid but no longer will there be a handout.
Third generation welfare recipients are now paying the price for Labor's leaders Whitlam and Hawke quck fix policies.
Easy money did not improve the family, health , employment or community EQ let alone the individual's sense of woth.
Posted by Viki Hannah, Wednesday, 28 September 2005 6:42:57 AM
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In principle, it depends on what type of 'community problem'
Many problems among low income families are due to financial stress.
Maybe one solution is to allow people of a certain age bracket who are single income families to split income. Impact on the economy is modelled below. (an educated guess more than anything)


Married Single Income Workers 1,000,000 (Estimate)
Average Income $40,000.00 (Estimate)
Tax on Single Income $8,172.00
Split Income $20,000.00
Tax on Split Income per person $2,380.00
Additional disposable Income $3,412.00

Tax Revenue on Single Income above $8,172,000,000.00
Tax Revenue on Split Income $4,760,000,000.00
Cost in Lost Revenue -$3,412,000,000.00
Expected Intake through
Additional GST (Disposable x .1) $341,200,000.00
Net Cost in Lost Revenue -$3,070,800,000.00

Projected Budget Surplus 2005 $8,900,000,000.00
Net Surplus after split income allowed $5,829,200,000.00

Benefit from lower stress levels of
struggling single income families_______"Priceless"
Posted by BOAZ_David, Wednesday, 28 September 2005 11:01:56 AM
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One of the easiest aspects of writing articles such as this is identifying the problem. One of the trickiest is suggesting a way out of it. On the one hand we have the massively over-funded machinery of "government", which has become an industry in and of itself, and on the other a few brave and worthy initiatives by concerned citizens "doing it for themselves".

Government is the only industry in Australia with an absolute mandate to take its income directly from our pockets, and to do with it as it will. (Although thinking about it, the Banks come close.) Even the governance and oversight processes are government-owned and driven, ensuring the untouchability of those concerned. To paraphrase Christopher Fildes, "giving money to the government is like giving a gallon of beer to a drunk: you know what will come of it, but you canít know which wall he will choose."

The mechanisms of change are tightly controlled too, so there are very limited avenues through which our voices can be heard. How many of us at the last dozen elections looked at the ballot paper and said to ourselves "I wouldn't give tuppence for any of that lot", and ended up voting for the least-worst? Doesn't the population of a well-run democracy deserve better than being forced to choose when their heart isn't in it, much as the inhabitant of a dictatorship decides between casting a vote for the despot with a large, flamboyant X or a small and grudging one?

Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on your level of intellectual tolerance - we are too affluent a society for this to worry us more than marginally. Which is why the government doesn't have a problem with articles like this. It doesn't matter how right or accurate they are, no-one will actually do anything about it.

Short of revolution, and we are too well-fed for one of those, we just have to put up with the present iniquities of government, and take every opportunity to slow its growth wherever we can.
Posted by Pericles, Wednesday, 28 September 2005 12:48:24 PM
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It is indeed interesting times we live in when socialism is the status quo and a shift towards individual rights and responsibilities and small government are considered radical.

Taxation reform is the first step towards small government. All Australians who advocate less government intervention should whole heartedly welcome tax reform, and not just revenue neutral proposals. Tax reform shuld be linked to a reduction in the provision of services. The less of our money the state has, the less power they have over us, the responsibility we must take for ourselves and the more interest we will have in strengthening the communities we live in. Government makes it easy to dismiss our own social responsibilities, it breeds within people a growing sense of entitlement.

I don't think we need revolution, just a move towards smaller government and a reliance on ourselves and each other to foster a healthy civilisation.
Posted by Brendan Halfweeg, Wednesday, 28 September 2005 5:55:53 PM
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