By Leith van Onselen — Published with kind permission from Macrobusiness.

Broken Window

After his shoddy effort yesterday defending Australia’s giant superannuation rortDad’s Army’s Robert Gottliebsen (“Gotti”), has backed Treasurer Hockey’s proposal to allow young home buyers to raid their superannuation accounts to purchase their first home:

Joe Hockey’s idea to allow first home buyers to use their superannuation to break into the housing market is not stupid…

Most young people in Australia are finding it impossible to gain a first home… we are watching a fundamental shift in the Australian landscape with huge implications for the intergenerational problem…

[Last weekend]…I found myself in the company of a typical first home buyer in today’s market… They can just manage a house or larger apartment but they are saddled with a huge mortgage…

So why would we not say to that couple: “you can invest up to $50,000 of your superannuation in your first home…

A whole generation of Australians could retire without a house because they are unable to get into the market…

A question, Gotti: What do you think the extra demand from first home buyers (FHBs) accessing their super would do to house prices? That’s right, it would raise them, making the scheme self-defeating, much like FHB grants did.

Meanwhile, young people’s retirement nest eggs would be put at risk, potentially increasing their reliance on the Aged Pension (increasing the burden on future taxpayers).

Thankfully, Business Spectator’s young gun, Callam Pickering, understands these issues, penning the following rebuke today:

Australia’s approach to housing is full of misguided policies and dumb ideas…

Australian housing policy can best be viewed as a remarkably successful anti-Robin Hood scheme. We take from the poor (usually those under 40) and give it to the wealthy (often but not always ‘baby boomers’).

Over the years we have introduced all sorts of dodgy schemes to continue this rort…

Allowing younger Australians to use their superannuation for a housing deposit would have a similar effect to the FHOG… It certainly did nothing to boost home ownership…

Exactly. How about policy address the root causes of unaffordable housing – tax lurks, supply constraints, loose capital rules, and over-investment by super funds – rather than applying a band aid solution that will impoverish young people further and fill the coffers of Gotti’s rent-class?

Colin’s Comment: In 1850 Frédéric Bastiat wrote an essay Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas (That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen) which describes the common mistake of politicians, economists and the general public when devising or assessing economic policy. They focus on the immediate, visible benefit and fail to consider the unseen, hidden costs.

Here is a simple video by Sam Selikoff that explains Bastiat’s Broken Window fallacy:

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