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The Forum > Article Comments > Vanity of vanities all is vanity > Comments

Vanity of vanities all is vanity : Comments

By Brendan Long, published 12/5/2014

Everything may perhaps have its proper time and place, especially in the ever turning world of politics, but the authors of this extraordinary epistle from the desert of economic purism have chosen the wrong time to speak dire prophesies of doom.

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Brendan, your article is entertaining but perhaps unfit for any purpose except generating agreement among the like-minded.

For instance, I agree that "Its sounds like warmed up Thatchernomics" but this is what is called for. You plead for protection of "average Australian families" welfare money; for disability pensioners to not suffer the stress of proving they cant work; and retirees not to be "forced to sell the family home" to get the pension.

All very sweet and virtuous. You airily deny there is a crisis, but there are at least two major train smashes in the offing; firstly the collision of spendthrift Labor shovelling money at expanded PS and welfare rolls, and locked-in committments for future years at crazy levels - all about to collide with vastly lower revenue. Over-regulation and soaking up savings into governmetn borrowing cripple economic growth, so revenue would not be able to bounce back.

The second train smash is the trajectory of increased life years and growing numbers in retirement and reduced numbers of young people working to support them. Add to this the immigration and refugee flow, many of whom end up in low-paid jobs or unemployed with net positive income from Government also. Not happy because not sustainable, Jan!

So you recommend the responsible new Government act like Tetrach Herod? The action you 'recommend' as example was a foul murder. You need to smarten up your ideas!

The comfy safety of other people's money lets the welfare lobby moralise no end, but if the razor gang does the right thing now we may have a society that doesn't find out what happens when a taker class first runs through other people's money, then all can be borrowed against the future earnings of our children.
Posted by ChrisPer, Monday, 12 May 2014 10:10:39 AM
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Yes, there were other opportunities to fix the budget, starting with a direct funding model of health and education, linked to far more regional autonomy.
This would have resulted in around 30% savings, at least, with no impact whatsoever on service delivery.
More could be saved if all government services were means tested, so that our charity was exclusively reserved for the needy, not the greedy!
The family home should become part of the asset test!
If that then forced a few to sell up and move on to cheaper options, in say underpopulated regional villages, that nonetheless, had all the required services, the elderly need, that would be no bad thing, and indeed, increase the housing supply in the top end of the market.
With their assets liquidated, some retirees, could become vastly more self reliant!
And indeed, less of a risk on roads that are far less congested, and where they are closer to everything they actually need, for a reasonable lifestyle.
In a large grid locked city, it is possible for a single elderly pensioner, to die unnoticed and alone, until the smell of rotting flesh, notifies the authorities, some lonely elderly person has passed on to their greater reward.
Something that just doesn't happen in small communities, where almost everyone knows you by name or reputation, and takes an interest in your well being!
It is time for some intelligent change, but not the politically motivated rubbish, the Abbott government, seems to be trying to force feed down our throats, with the gloom and doom sales pitch?
Posted by Rhrosty, Monday, 12 May 2014 11:02:10 AM
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Actually, the song "Turn, Turn, Turn" was written in the 1950s by Pete Seeger, popularized by the Byrds in 1965, then covered (as so many US hits were in that decade) by an Australian band, in 1966.

Which actually turns out to be quite a neat metaphor for this article.

I have actually read the report. I wonder if the author has. It is a rich source of ideas, discussion points, recommendations, warnings, and plain-speaking economic reality. My suspicions stem from this paragraph:

"In fact, I think that Shepherd deliberately exaggerates the fiscal challenge in order to foist on us his view of how society should be structured. This is that government should be small and should only reluctantly be allowed to do what individuals canít achieve for themselves. There seems little role for a shared vision, a community embarking together on a journey and the pursuit of the common good."

There is no exaggeration to be found anywhere in the document or its appendices. There is however a clear preference for intelligently organized government, where the needs of the population are placed ahead of the need for a bloated bureaucracy. And the entire document is designed to highlight the need to pursue a common good, as opposed to the cultivation of profits to rent-seeking opportunists.

The discussion needs to be conducted largely outside the blatantly political arena. From the tone of this article, that is going to be very difficult to achieve.
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 12 May 2014 11:32:21 AM
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Once again we allude to biblical wisdom. yes we merely allude to the bible and don't take it seriously. The term Vanity of Vanities predates the 20th century pop songs. it goes right back to King solomon who had everything power, status and riches yet lamented. vanity of vanities ...what is it all about. His story is record in The Book of Ecclesiasties and in the final chapter after the thoughts about a time for every purpose under heaven King Solomon reflects on the fact that it (Life) is all about a relationship with God.
When we come to the end of our life earthly stuff means absolutely nothing. Gods word and His promises are the only things to be counted upon.

Ecclesiasties Ch 12 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.
12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

And Ch 12 from the Message

We should learn from those wise men who lived before us.
To everything there is a season Ecclesiastes 3:1
Referencing and Acknowledging where my understandings come from.
Posted by Canary in Coalmine, Monday, 12 May 2014 1:38:58 PM
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Thank you Canary for helping to get our priorities right:

Life is all about our relationship with God.

'Kohelet' means 'convener' - one who gathers people to a convention. I assume he had something very important to say in that/those convention(s) because he was the wisest philosopher ever to be born in the west (if one includes the middle-east in that category).

Kohelet said that ALL is vanity - because existence itself is vanity: he never said "what I value is important but what you value is vanity".

Apparently, wisdom is not contagious and a duck-egg laid in a swan-nest, will still produce a duck rather than a swan - just because Kohelet was wise and just because Christianity is about our relationship with God, when one writes:

"Kohelet bla-bla-bla Kohelet bla-bla-bla (Turn turn turn) Kohelet bla-bla-bla Christian bla-bla-bla dishwasher"

Doesn't turn 'dishwasher' into 'Abracadabra' nor 'bla-bla-bla' into words of wisdom!
Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 12 May 2014 4:55:02 PM
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"As a Christian economist I think..."

That we should sell all we have and give to the poor, presumably. There's hardly a more explicit instruction from Jesus than that. Or are 'Christian economists' allowed to cherry-pick too?
Posted by Jon J, Tuesday, 13 May 2014 7:22:19 AM
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