Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Nelson gets worse

Brendan Nelson is increasingly display signs of political ambition by pandering to the ideological dumb. Now he wants to spoil a perfectly reasonable response to the voluntary student unionism law by rejecting a compulsory levy to provide services.

VSU is a rejection of the old style compulsory unionism that used to be endemic in Australia. For reasons of political philosophy, the conservatives argue that there should be freedom of choice, and the ways in which student unions used to take overt political stances, there is, perhaps, some merit in that.

But the downside is that under VSU, basic services to students will suffer - health, dentistry, food cafs, sports facilities, and so on. To charge full user-pays would put these services out of the reach of students. They aren't political, but our Beloved Minister wants to treat them as if they are.

User-pays is a damned fool notion. It would mean that we should charge the full cost of train services, including line construction and maintenance, in the ticket price. It would mean that car drivers should pay a fee that allows the full construction costs of roads to be recovered. It means that infrastructure, which benefits the entire society, would become impossible. What's next, full cost recovery of the police?

Infrastructure that serves the community is very well charged back to the entire community - even if a student never uses dental and other services provided now by the Union of their uni, they benefit by having other students at the university as a result. And hey, guess what? The entire nation benefits from having an educated populace.

We've seen this user-pays notion of public infrastructure capitalism pushed for about 30 years now - it doesn't work, it has never worked, and it is stupid ideology. One doesn't need to be a socialist to see this. It is the Common Wealth. That's the foundation for society.

So let's adopt this sensible suggestion by Labor, and have our freedom, and our eateries too.

Nelson seems to me to be running a public campaign - is he planning to run for the leadership when Howard moves on? God help us all.. if the choice is between him and Costello, or worse, Tony Abbott, then bring on the radical socialists, I say!