t’s not often I feel grateful to politicians, but today I make an exception.
Thank you Mister Prime Minister!
My gratitude may come as a surprise to most readers of this blog. And if your’e Australian, you might be doubly surprised because our current Prime Minister is controversially spending nearly $40 million dollars of our money on a public information campaign to persuade us that he is acting in our interest—raising taxes to make Australia a better place.
You might also be surprised that my gratitude is related to a public information campaign. After all, we at CRI have been highly critical of such activity in the past; if you look through many of our publications you will find a sustained attack on this type of information and communication activity. From that point of view, the current campaign is no different to most other such campaigns, with the usual litany of false assumptions, poor research methods, inane execution, and dubious outcomes. Indeed looking at this particular campaign fills me with a sense of great weariness at the thought of the many layers of poor thinking and execution that one would have to strip away before one might get to a position in which one could do something useful.
The irony is that to do something useful in this area—to explain the new tax reforms and their impact and to have these explanations widely available—would cost a tiny fraction of what the government is currently spending. My back-of-the-envelope calculation gives a figure of 5% of the current budget, about $190,000. BTW, this includes the costs of research.
So, why am I grateful to the Prime Minister? Clearly, not for spending my money wisely. I will explain.
Most days I avoid reading newspapers. It’s depressing and not very rewarding: a bland mixture of disaster, death, and nitpicking commentary. But every now and then the desire to be in touch, the habit of reading the paper with a cup of coffee in hand, comes upon me. Sadly, the habit is accompanied by guilt: if I avoid reading something I know I should read but know I won’t enjoy, I feel guilty, torn between duty and dislike.
So imagine my delight this morning when I came across one full newspaper page that I knew I wouldn’t have to read, one I could bypass yet still do my duty. That full page was so clearly a government public information campaign advertisement, I knew at first glance that I could skip it. No obligation, no duty and no guilt.
So, thank you Mister Prime Minister. You made my day!