John Stone
is a bloke who should know what is possible with tax reform. He ran the
Treasury for a long time, he became a Senator and is one of the sharpest tools
in the shed. So his
analysis must be listened to. This from The Oz:

One question only will define next month’s federal budget, and the government
producing it. Will it contain genuine tax reform?

Last
week’s “international benchmarking study” is a 450-page compendium of data that,
while not wholly worthless, is chiefly an answer to a silly question: “How do
our tax rates compare with other countries? Whatever
the answer, the only sensible reaction is: “So what?”

Mr Stone is
no fan of Treasurer Costello. He disposes of the Treasurer’s reasons to avoid
real tax reform. He
concludes:

A really significant reform of the rate scale, from the present
15/30/42/47 one to 15/25/30, would cost about $20 billion. We don’t know
precisely because Costello won’t tell us.

Introduced
over two years, commencing July 1, 2006 (and thus fully in place before the 2007
election), such a reform could easily be accomplished budgetarily. Last year’s
budget was widely, and rightly, seen as a wasted opportunity. Another such
failure next month will be unforgivable. Just do it!

Meanwhile,The
Economist
points out that women are the key to growth:

Even today in the modern,
developed world, surveys show that parents still prefer to have a boy rather
than a girl. One long-standing reason why boys have been seen as a greater
blessing has been that they are expected to become better economic providers for
their parents’ old age. Yet it is time for parents to think again. Girls may now
be a better investment.

Girls get
better grades at school than boys, and in most developed countries more women
than men go to university. Women will thus be better equipped for the new jobs
of the 21st century, in which brains count a lot more than brawn. In Britain
far more women than men are now training to become doctors. And women are more
likely to provide sound advice on investing their parents’ nest egg: surveys
show that women consistently achieve higher financial returns than men
do.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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