wonderful tax musings in The Age today from economics editor Tim Colebatch:
Nick Minchin is the Ed Murrow of our tax
debate. Just as he did last summer, the Finance Minister on Sunday confronted
the increasingly nasty campaign for tax cuts for high income earners, and
warned that it failed the test of economic responsibility.
In the film Good Night, and Good Luck,
Murrow, a CBS current affairs anchorman in the ’50s, takes on the full rage of
McCarthyist anti-communist hysteria, demanding that the senator produce
evidence for his accusations, rather than using false claims, guilt by
association, name-calling and intimidation.
The real issue behind his stand is not one
of left versus right, but one of intellectual standards, fairness and decency.
We are not in McCarthyist times now, thankfully, but we do live in a world
where those who raise concerns about good policy often become targets of
bullying ad hominem attacks.
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Minchin is not an austere, self-righteous
type like Murrow. He revels in the freedom of having risen as far as he intends
to, knows Liberal Party politics, and knows that there would be big opportunity
costs from squandering the surplus on tax cuts for the well-off.
And in putting forward an economically responsible
alternative – removing the 15% tax the Government charges on our
superannuation contributions – Minchin has boldly pressed for good policy to be
given priority over knee-jerk politics. Yes, he says, let’s have tax cuts, but
for everyone and to increase our saving, not our spending…
Australia does not need more spending: it
needs more saving. In the past decade, household incomes after tax have risen
21%, per head, yet we are living ever further beyond our means. If our
take-home pay does not match our spending ambitions, it may be our ambitions
that require a reality check.
enough, but… doesn’t superannuation exist so we can provide for our own
retirements – and give the state some savings?
don’t want to make super contributions an unlimited tax break, but if the idea
is to create some long term savings for taxpayers, who came up with current
regime of taxing them?
“Tax cuts and tax reform are two different
things,” Colebatch says. He’s right. And we need tax reform.
Take super as a snapshot. It looks once
again as if that old slogan’s been proved right: “If the system is the answer,
it must have been a bloody stupid question to begin with.”