Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Egalitarian? Accept no subsidy

By James Falk - posted Thursday, 20 March 2014

If you compare the experience of a small shop owner with industries that get government support, one thing becomes clear. All industry support is cronyism.

It's cronyism because players in similar situations are treated differently based on how connected they are to the government. Some connected firms and employees get support; shopkeepers, small business and independent contractors don't.

That's why government decisions about support for the car industry, drought-affected farms, SPC Ardmona and Qantas are so important for Australia's economic culture. We are in the middle of deciding if Australia is to continue to be a low-level crony culture.


This isn't an expression of free market dogmatism. It may be true that the economic benefits of competition are undeniable, the flow-on to ordinary consumers substantial.

It is an expression of the hard-wired human desire for fairness. All people and all businesses in similar circumstances should be treated equally before the law, and in all government decisions.

This is at heart an egalitarian view. It is one that the great liberal democratic reformers of the past 350 years have supported: that privileges due to blood relation, class, faction, influence, connections and donations (as well as bribes) should not affect how a government deals with people.

In short, government funds shouldn't be the plaything of connected insiders. And wage earners and shopkeepers are not responsible for making up for any business's lousy risk management.

Nothing can make this clearer than a comparison of farm drought relief, car manufacture support, and the similar circumstances but very different experiences of a retail or convenience store owner who lives above their shop.

Farm businesses are a business. Drought is a known risk for farming. More than 120 years of data makes that clear. The only uncertainty is when and for how long. All businesses facing the certainty of a large risk are responsible for managing those risks - taking on risk is a key reason they reap the benefits of their investments.


Bailing out farms that can't manage known risks is simply subsidising a badly-managed business because it is badly-managed.

No corner shop that goes broke because a supermarket opens nearby gets a bailout, or interest subsidy, or mental health support. And that is a risk that is far less likely than drought.

They get nothing other than Newstart. Not even sympathy. And certainly nothing from sentimental news programs talking about "doing it tough". That is the way it should be. They paid their money, and they took their chances.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

16 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

James Falk is a process and productivity consultant.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by James Falk

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of James Falk
Article Tools
Comment 16 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy