Oh, the rank hypocrisy of Saint Peter of the Three Smirks. It was he who betrayed the creed of budget prudence by cutting capital gains tax in half, by cutting tax on superannuation for those over 60 and by squandering the fruits of the mining boom on tax cuts for the rich.
And that is leaving aside the idiocy of paying couples to have a third child for the country after one for mum and one for dad.
It was John Howard's treasurer Peter Costello who caused the budget structural deficit that he now attacks Joe Hockey about – daring to crow about his own record as he does so.
The Costello castigation comes in a week in which several Coalition traits were brilliantly explained by science broadcaster Karl Kruszelnicki. Among the traits expressed for the umpteenth time were: beating up on the poor, rejection of evidence and science in favour of tendentious ideological gamesmanship, and favouring the big end of town.
Kruszelnicki had been duped by the government to promote the 2015 Intergenerational Report in the naïve belief that the report was a dispassionate exposition of the intergenerational challenges facing Australia.
Alas, Kruszelnicki, a believer in sensible planning, recorded the advertisements before the full report came out.
Afterwards he was bombarded in social media for lending his scientific name to support a report which gave the biggest challenge facing Australia – climate change – scarcely a mention. Instead of being an independent apolitical document prepared by experts, it arranged the evidence in a way to support cuts to government spending on the needy, health and education and to divert attention away from the profligate follies of the Howard-Costello government in handing the dividends of the mining boom to the wealthy.
Kruszelnicki explained what happened to him (and the rest of Australia) with reference to a fable (possibly adapted from Aesop) about a scorpion and a frog.
The scorpion asks the frog to take him across a flooded river, but the frog says, "No, you'll stab me and kill me." But the scorpion replies, "No, I won't do that because I'll drown myself." So the frog agrees to take the scorpion in his back.
Halfway across the scorpion stabs the frog. The frog says, "Hey, you stabbed me, I'm going to die! And so are you! Why'd you do that? Are you crazy?"
To which the scorpion replies: "I can't help it. It's my nature."
Kruszelnicki added rather wistfully: "It was my fault for not realising the nature of the beast that I was involved with."
The nature of that beast reared its tail again with the "no jab, no pay" immunisation policy. It popped up like a thought bubble from the Prime Minister and Health Minister last Sunday. It was a quick media grab to show the government was doing something, not just standing there.
And what an easy target – people on welfare, people on family benefits.
There was no evidence to suggest it would be effective – in contradistinction to immunisation itself which is one of the greatest scientific achievements of humankind.
Yes, we should improve immunisation rates in the face of a dangerous decrease that is resulting in the return of diseases once thought extinct.
But what is the evidence to suggest that a punitive measure will do the job? It may, it may not.
Don't bother with evidence. Don't bother with science. Just grab some attention to distract the voters.
Only after the policy came out did people start gathering the evidence – both for and against the policy. The failure is not that the policy is wrong, but that no one bothered to find out whether it might be right.
Some scientists and policy commentators supported the idea because falling immunisation rates pose such a dire threat – doubling to 40,000 over the past decade.
Others pointed out a major flaw. Many, if not most, of the crackpots and conspiracy theorists who oppose immunisation and have refused to get their children immunised are not on family benefits and come from quite well-off families.
The map of immunisation rates is quite contrary to expectation. You might imagine that the lowest rates would be in rural, regional and remote Australia. Wrong, the lowest rates are in fact in wealthy Sydney and Adelaide suburbs and in general in the capitals.
This might suggest two sorts of non-immunisers: stressed two-income, city families who forget, do not have time or are too stressed to follow through with immunisation, on one hand, and people in more densely populated, internet-connected places where anti-immunisation pseudoscience can take hold.
A lot of that originated in 1998, with publication of research by English doctor Andrew Wakefield suggesting a link between the mumps, measles and rubella triple vaccine and the onset of autism. The "research" has been utterly discredited, but there is nothing like a good scare campaign.
In any event, it is unlikely that a punitive approach will have much effect on either of these groups. It will just get their backs up. But that is the beast we are dealing with.
This week I got a princely $145 from the Copyright Agency Limited which it had collected on my behalf because someone, somewhere in government had copied one of these columns and it had been picked up in its random sampling of government and educational copying.
So here's a thought bubble. Now that we have software capable of monitoring illegal downloads, as explained in last week's Federal Court case, maybe we should start looking at the CAL scheme. The major music and film copyright holders should get together and agree to grant immunity from lawsuit for people who agree to pay a set monthly fee for downloads. They could then distribute it according to some sampling during the year.
A few lawsuits against people who download without paying would be an encouragement and the copyright holders would at least get some payment.
A lot of illegal downloading is done because it is easy, not because people do not want to pay a reasonable fee.
Some useless facts on US elections. If Hillary Clinton is elected it will be the first, and only, time a Democrat has been elected after a two-full-term Democrat president since Martin Van Buren in 1836. And he was not re-elected in 1840.
Also, when Barack Obama ends his term it will be the first, and only, time since 1800-1824 that the US has had three consecutive two-term presidents.