The Malta Independent 25 June 2019, Tuesday

Nothing's for free

Alfred Sant Thursday, 6 June 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 18 days ago

The idea that the use of public goods is “free” of charge is a fundamental of economic theory. To breathe for instance, you do not have to pay for the usage of the air supply.

On the other hand, polluted air that people “use” for free triggers illnesses affecting young and old. To cure them, one needs to pay... or else state authorities pay out of the taxes that finance public health services. Polluters too have been making free use of our air...

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Many ways exist by which the usage of public goods... for better or for worse... generates new costs for us all.  To counter such costs, we establish direct and indirect taxes that effectively mean we are paying for the use of public goods.

Nothing comes for free.

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Public works and festas

One must worry that this summer... unless precautions are taken in time... the traffic situation will go from bad to worse.

It does seem as if public works on roads will continue to be rolled over. Meanwhile pressures will arise for streets and squares to be closed to traffic in order to make way for festa celebrations. Summertime is when though traffic for schools and sometimes for factories is at an ebb, it increases for tourists because they will be arriving in their thousands.

All this should not be allowed to happen haphazardly. We will need some coordination, town by town, village by village, region by region, of ongoing public works and the holding of festas. Otherwise, we shall end up not only with huge traffic jams, but there will also be a great number of drivers who, brought to the summits of frustration, risk experiencing serious health disturbances.    

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What's an NGO?

A local paper carried the curious news that the developers’ association is among the NGOs which are receiving financial aid or the equivalent from the government. Now, this association is in existence to safeguard the interests of entities that run as businesses to make profits. In no way can it be compared to trade unions, and even less so, to charitable organizations or those which cater for social needs.

One could come to understand that the government extends financial support to business organizations when they band together to organise and maintain a presence in Brussells, in order to monitor developments of importance to the Maltese economy, as they emerge within the EU. Surely: to be precise... one understands but not completely; for after all, the free market is supposed to be an instituion that exists precisely to empower firms to generate profits while covering all the expenses that are necessary to make their operations viable... But let’s agree to put a bracket around this argument.

The claim for developers though goes to an unacceptable limit. For these are firms which are benefitting the most from economic growth and have already found great support from public sources. Did they also need that the state... the public... fork out funds to subsidize their internal corporate administration as a group? Definitely not.

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