It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort
and elaborate planning are required to
waste this much money.
– P.J. O'Rourke
It has been reported that construction of the proposed Traveston Crossing dam will commence sometine after Christmas. This project has not been approved environmentally by the federal government at this time and it is interesting to note that the Queensland government regards its approval as a done deal. I guess with the proposal being put up by a Labor government, the minister Peter Garrett will do what he is told on this issue.
The dam is a prime example of the old adage that nobody's life liberty or property is safe while parliament is sitting. While property rights are generally secure from private encroachment, they have no security when the government decides it has a project that is "in the common good." Straight seizure, or resumption, or forced purchase is not the only manner in which property rights are violated. There is a growing tendency to limit the rights of property owners to carry out their own activities on their own land, by federal, state and local governments alike.
The entire project was hatched at blinding pace cloaked in secrecy in order to make it appear to Brisbane householders that the government was going to do something to alleviate the water supply restrictions there. Essentially the whole concept was based on knee-jerk reactions to the unpopularity in major population centers of having to cut back on water usage like the rest of us have to do in droughts. The result is probably one of the worst thought out proposals in recent times which will result in thousands of acres of land being covered in shallow water, which will result in a massive algal swamp.
I note that landholders are being vilified in government statements in relation to overgrazing, erosion and bad farming practices. It is also noticeable that there is a judgementalism in the comments section as to what the land is used for, for example, lifestyle blocks. In a free society a landholder is not required to prove himself worthy in the eyes of the elitists to have the right to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
It seems that now the dam is achieving the almost religious status of a state spending project. Since the beginning of the economic downturn governments have experienced some sort of epiphany whereby instead of the old ideas of fiscal responsibility where balancing the budget was a virtue, the responsible course is for the state to spend like drunken sailors to make up for all of those irresponsible private citizens who tighten their belts in order to get through. They seem to think that the way to deal with the result of excessive borrowing and spending is to borrow and spend a hell of a lot more.
While to some it may appear that this is the answer, it is only a temporary fix and in the longer term we are going to have to go through the pain of not only having to repay the massive debt that is currently being run up, but we face the possibly disastrous results of an economy skewed towards reliance on government spending. As Milton Friedman stated, "There is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program. "
I am sceptical of the benefit to the state of a program based on saddling the private sector with a massive increase in public sector employees to support while skewing the economy towards dependence on government spending.