Kevin Rudd reads my livejournal, and he's not giving me my Rudd-money.
Actually, he thinks i make too little money ($9,000 a year) to need any extra money. (So, goodbye car insurance for the next year...) Someone on $99,000 a year will get the payment, but probably no-one under $10,000 a year, to my understanding. (I guess you could call it "regressive welfare", a'la regressive taxes... the bonus drops as you approach $100,000, but only near the end - like a microcosm of Australia's idea of progressive tax in general)
The reason is that it's a tax bonus, not a welfare payment. As explained by the Australian Government tax bonus eligibility calculator that i just did. (I should have twigged when it became common knowledge that the ATO would be distributing it... i think i just assumed that this was the most convenient way to give pocket money to everyone in the country, when actually it's more like a second tax return.)
And this kind of makes sense, if you consider Rudd's pseudo-Keynesian neo-liberal ideology, and the reasoning behind the payments (i.e. "GO SHOPPING!").
John Maynard Keynes said that Recessions happen when money goes out of circulation because people are hoarding rather than spending. I called Rudd a "pseudo-Keynesian" because, unlike Rudd, Keynes was kind of an intelligent person. He thought that governments should "spend their way out of recessions", by spending on public works - building roads, bridges, hospitals, housing projects, etc. The idea is you employ builders who are unemployed (Keynes was pre-Welfare State, so being "unemployed" back then meant "YOU THINK ABOUT DYING NOW"), distributing money to them via wages, and they become more likely to spend their wages in their local communities (Keynes was also arguably pre-"Globalisation"), which flows into other peoples wages, and so on and so forth. The wealth created in the process is also capable of permanently benefiting the community, because the things you build don't just disappear next financial year (and there's some room in every budget for this sort of thing; generally not enough).
Unlike the stimulus package payments.
So, it literally is just a "stimulus"; a one-time booster shot that may not have any long-term effects (at least in terms of public works). The money'll be out of most people's system by July 2010. (I'm itching to make some insulting comment about Rudd's economic plan being similar to somebody pissing drug metabolites out in their urine, but i can't get the wording right...)
Which only sounds mildly inane, except when you consider the logic of the "GO SHOPPING!" plan in more depth. It ain't exactly the 'Invasion of Normandy' (to paraphrase Riley from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
A Keynesian "stimulus" package involves direct spending on local labour; brick-layers, concreters, glaziers, architects, public servants, etc. So the money goes straight into the population you're trying to save from recession. But Rudd's plan - one more time, "GO SHOPPING!" - is about spending pocket money at the mall. Possibly it's derived from his neoliberal ideology - one of the basic tenets of neoliberalism is "the average person would spend their tax money better than the government ever could" (because, naturally, the average person is always getting together with her neighbours and pooling their extra income to set up homeless shelters; *rolleyes*). A warped neoliberal bastardisation of a Keynesian 'stimulus' might look exactly like this: Government essentially returning a portion of people's tax money to them, and then telling them to... deep breath... "GO SHOPPING!"
One of the effects of this is that, while, sure, you MIGHT hire somebody to rewire your house and boost the local economy by giving your electrician some money, it seems that Rudd expects us to splash out on things like big-screen TVs, miniature laptops (thats what i was going to think about getting with the money left over from my car insurance payment...), Buffy DVDs, clothing, etc. And one of the differences between Keynes's era and our own era, is that governments like Kevin Rudd's have sold out Australian producers in a wide range of areas - we are no longer capable of making a lot of our own stuff, because people like Rudd allow companies to hire overseas labour, who are expected to work for lower wages in shittier conditions. It's a way of bypassing those pesky worker's-rights advocates.
Which means, while Target and Big W might make a bit more money off the top, the main beneficiaries of the stimulus package will be the proprieters of South-East Asian sweatshops (especially if you buy Bonds underwear).
Not exactly what Keynes was getting at.
So, it just goes to show.
Just because someone wears glasses, doesn't mean they're not an idiot.