Good debt and the myth of the prudent pinstriped Coalition
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Good debt and the myth of the prudent pinstriped Coalition

I've renamed my mortgage "good debt" and I feel richer already.

So much better in fact, that I decided to call my spreading middle-aged girth "good spreading middle-aged girth" and all of a sudden it's not a heath risk any more, it's boosting my productivity! And, in measurable flow-on effects, it's really contributing to the bottom line of the new burger joint that opened down the hill from me.

Scott Morrison and his Coalition colleagues are not the "models of pinstriped fiscal rectitude" they purport to be, argues John Birmingham.

Scott Morrison and his Coalition colleagues are not the "models of pinstriped fiscal rectitude" they purport to be, argues John Birmingham.

Photo: Andrew Meares

I really feel then, that I should be treasurer. Sure, my credit cards are a smoking crater littered with the human burrito meat of my best intentions but what the hell, it's not like I've run up nearly half a trillion dollars in debt. Not even half that amount.

Not like Abbott, ScoMo and Trumble, who've whacked an additional $216 billion and change onto the national plastic since they took over the till.

It'd be LOL-worthy, if we weren't all likely to die groaning at some point in the future. These are the guys who drove a big truck around the country plastered with an ever-growing figure for Labor's debt splurge during and after the Great Recession.

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There was, unfortunately, no room on the truck for any little Post-it notes about Howard and Costello's creation of a structural deficit that would eventually rain fiery toads of ruin and damnation down on the public Treasury … but what the hell. The ALP had their run at the ATM and they did manage to withdraw a couple of hundred billion themselves.

But then, they never claimed to be tight-arses. You elect the Labor Party and you know you're handing over your PIN to a tequila-fuelled douchelord in flared jeans, with jungle-thick chest pubes and no impulse control.

But ScoMo and Co are supposed to be the punishers and straighteners. The grown-ups. The Repomen.

Instead, they're a special kind of scam artist working a confidence trick where they pass themselves off as models of pinstriped fiscal rectitude, when in fact they're like compulsive click-spenders on a drunken Friday night shame-shopping binge. Pawning off your university education to pay for their mining industry tax-cut orgy.

Back in 2010, when he was a mere shadow finance spokesman, Barnaby Joyce said, "We're going into hock to our eyeballs to people overseas. And you've got to ask the question, 'how far in debt do you want to go?'. We are getting to a point where we can't repay it."

He was roundly mocked as a sweating idiot. That was about $350 billion ago.

I'm happy to add one shiny dollar to my personal mountain of debt to take this wager. I'll bet Morrison's budget will cut deeply into areas that cause great pain and do great damage to anyone who can't defend themselves, without addressing the real problem: the revenue shortfall caused by John Howard's structural deficit and the absolute refusal of the corporate sector to even consider paying a fair share of the tax burden.

John Birmingham

John Birmingham is a columnist and blogger for the Brisbane Times. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude.

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