Fiscal austerity undermines the future as well as the present

Amidst all the political turmoil in the Australian government this week, there was a highly significant report issued by the government (finalised December 2011 but released by the Government on February 20, 2012) – Review of Funding for Schooling – which showed not only how unequal our education system is but also how far behind we have fallen relative to other nations (particularly those that are more important trading partners). For a government which pretends to be concerned with equity and efficiency the Report posed huge challenges. Not only did it suggest current policy was failing, the Report estimated that over AU$5 billion should be invested in education reform to not only improve standards but also ensure that the massive inequalities between rich and poor with respect to educational access and outcomes are reduced. The response by the Australian government was that its priority remained the achievement of a budget surplus in 2012. Here is a classic demonstration of how a failure by the Government to understand the characteristics of the monetary system that it runs leads to poor outcomes in the short-run, but also undermines the future prosperity of the nation.

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