Federal budget 2017: we forgot the most important question: why do we spend public money?

By Simon Cowan
Updated April 24 2018 - 10:08pm, first published May 26 2017 - 5:00pm

Why does the government fund university degrees? Why does it fund childcare? What is the purpose of welfare? These may seem like obvious questions but rarely do we see budget decisions reasoned from these first principles. Instead, most commentary focuses on two things: distributional issues (who wins, who loses and by how much) and overall cost (debt and deficits).

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