Brew up the coffee, put the kids to bed early and dim the lights - tonight is Budget night in Australia. Peter Costello delivered his 12th - yes, 12th - Federal Budget this year and, in an election year, what a nice little offering to the gods of politics he made. Key points from this year's money-fest are:
- Underlying cash surplus: $10.6 billion
- GDP growth forecast: 3.75 per cent
- Tax cuts: $31.5 billion over four years
- $5b fund for uni capital works, research
- Childcare benefit up by 10 per cent
- $22.3b for road and rail infrastructure
- Solar panel rebate doubled to $8,000
- Overseas aid: $2.58b of new initiatives
The Federal Budget is one of the rare times where economics meet human need. It is an opportunity for the Government to give back to the nation and its people (although what they promise and what they deliver don't necessary align). In business terms, it is the Government's way of keeping their share-holders happy, and as the shareholders of this great country, we have wide-ranging expectations. Unfortunately, Australian corporations don't seem to equate that their share-holders are also the Government's share-holders and therefore have the same wide-ranging expectations. Somehow the corporations have got the impression that their share-holders are only interested in money.
Money is a strange thing. It is an inanimate object of no real value and yet it has become the cornerstone of society. The only thing that gives money any value is the human definition of its worth, yet ironically, human worth is often determined by money - or the amount thereof. But not all human worth can be determined by money, a concept that big business seems to struggle with. As humans, we crave experience, pleasure, acceptance and satisfaction. Businesses can throw money at us, coercing us to work for them by offering large salaries and incentives however this does not necessarily attend to our cravings. Instead, these are met by actions and attitudes which don't always have a price attached. Sure, you could offer me $200k to work for your business, but if taking up this offer means I'm stuck in dank, dilapidated office surrounded by a bunch of prats demanding my attention 24x7 then you can shove your $200k.
Likewise, as a society, we have expectations that corporations don't seem to grasp without assigning a dollar value to them. We now expect corporations to take action on social and environmental issues and put the money they make off us to work for us as a local, national and global population. There are a few large corporations that are making an effort, no doubt based on the economic value of public image, but the contributions they make are minuscule in comparison to the profits they make.
Really, it's a simple concept to grasp - people are share-holders, ergo share-holders are people. Address the expectations of the people and you address the expectations of your share-holders.
Songs played while writing this entry:
"Shine" Collective Soul
"Out Ta Get Me" Guns N Roses
"Choir Girl" Cold Chisel
"The World Has Turned And Left Me Here" Weezer
"Givin The Dog A Bone" AC/DC
"Funky Monks" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Time Out In Toronto" SS
"Tremora Del Terra" Illuminatae
"Pure Flow" Odyssee
"Bitter Sweet Symphony" The Verve
"Freak Momma" Mudhoney & Sir Mix-a-Lot