BACK IN THE 1970s, when I taught Economics to students at Keravat National High School, I would usually start off with drawing a line on the board, showing the planned Communist economy on the left and the laissez-faire unplanned economy on the right.
I would then provide examples of countries on the far left and far right and explain how all countries could be placed somewhere along this line.
Then I’d go on to describe the virtues of the middle way – the semi-planned economy.
Next I clarified what happens in Australia with the Labor Party on the left of centre and the Liberal-National Coalition on the right, and how the population, through elections, tries to keep the country towards the centre.
We have recently heard from various Papua New Guinean employees in the formal sector, taxpayers, who feel they are being taxed very heavily and that the government is not providing them with much by way of services.
PNG is a semi-planned economy, along the lines of Australia. For example, it provides government run schools and government run hospitals but also allows private schools and private hospitals.
We hear how people on high incomes are now sending their children to private schools and prefer to go to the well-appointed private hospitals.
We hear how standards have fallen in government schools while private schools follow a different syllabus and have a higher standard of education.
We also hear that government hospitals have not been well maintained, are short of medicine and lives are being lost. Meanwhile, private hospitals are of a much higher standard and are favoured by those on a higher income but unavailable to the poor.
This tells me that “things have swung to the right” and the well-off PNG people are being looked after while the poor are neglected. It seems to me there is a need of a correction back to the middle.
There is obviously need for politicians who have a heart for villagers, subsistence farmers and those people in the informal sector with a small cash income, and who feel a commitment to those in the formal sector who pay high income tax with not much benefit in the way of government services.
These politicians would work to improve government schools and government hospitals and try to see that there is a fair taxation system where the rich are taxed at a higher rate than those on low incomes.
Tingting bilong mi tasol.