Have We Had Enough of Playing Stupid Yet?

The trouble with holiday periods is that they give you time to reflect and think. Dangerous stuff! I had some time to look closer at some bills during the break. Like many of you I have reduced my energy consumption only to find that – despite my change of behavior – my energy bills have doubled. I spend more than $5,000 a year in road tolls and the motorway I use the most mainly restricts me to a speed limit of 70 kilometers an hour when its not pretending it is a parking lot.

In almost every area that involves government in this country we are paying more for less. And what is enabling increasing levels of tax by stealth is the constant stream of fear-generating propaganda being used to distract even the most intelligent people from what is going on.

If it isn’t yet another terrifying prophecy of doom from an eco-mentalist group, then its scary financial forecasts from their cousins the mystical economists or another extremist fringe group wanting action to stop the majority from enjoying liberties that have been abused by an infinitesimal minority. All these headline-grabbing harbingers of gloom have one thing in common. They never let fact get in the way of a good headline.

What actually happening and is measured as real data, is always glossed over in favor of projections based on ‘black box’ modeling – the 21st century equivalent of crystal ball gazing. And even when these prophets of doom are proved subsequently to be wrong, they simply move on to the next big prediction.The conspiracy between media, government and some sections of the investment community to keep us in a constant state of fear allows them to control and engineer outcomes.

And because it just keeps coming at all of us in a flood, we use all our energy to try and stay positive instead of doing our research to work out our own opinion and push back against what simply cannot be supported by facts. Fear sells newspapers, makes governing easier and creates the opportunity to create change – including new industries and new revenue streams.

But enough is enough. Its time for the majority of us to stop playing stupid and to start thinking straight. And there are two key areas that all retailers should be pushing back against. The first is the Ken Henry led review of taxation and the second is the Rudd government’s replacement of Work Choices. You can probably think of others but these involve all of us.

Both have massive implications for retail and yet I hear little debate, input and push back from the broad retail community. The tax review is likely to have a monumental impact on household expenditure, business profitability and asset growth. The Fair Work legislation has already led to claims of decreased flexibility and increased costs in retail – not to mention the administrative burden placed on the retail sector to prove compliance.

It is time to put fear mongering in its place as peripheral noise, do your own research, form your own opinion and then shout about it. It is too late to speak up when all you can do is grumble about the outcome.

Think – but more than anything else just act smart and do it now.