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Federal

Oct 6, 2011

Tax forum gave us naked policy debate and no horseshit

If you want to improve the debate in Australia, if you want real public debate in this country rather than the dismal sloganeering of the unhinged -- this tax forum is a marvelous template.

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It’s like some Dallas inspired meta-event. Tuning in to the drama called National Affairs, only to find that the last season of federal politics with its poor ratings, asinine plot arcs, infantile dialogue and characters so vacuous you wonder how they escaped from their bumper sticker — well, it was all just a bad dream.

We simply awake to find that we have a tax forum, filled with experts — experts that aren’t derided because of their expertise — constructively discussing  the problems we face with our current tax system, and doing so with a manner of civility and gravitas that we’ve all recently become unaccustomed to.

Yet even more unusual compared to the recent past of our nightmares — it was a debate by experts and not pretenders.

We now have an expert committee that over the short term will explore mechanisms to constructively treat business losses in a volatile economy struggling to adapt to the dislocative effects of a resource boom. And over the medium term it deals with broader business tax problems and explores whether a program of targeted measures rather than an homogenous corporate tax cut might produce superior results.

Treasury, the ATO and the Council for Small Business will bang heads together and create a blueprint to reduce tax complexity for small business. NSW and Qld start the long national process of reforming the menagerie of inefficient and often deleterious state taxes. The Not-For-Profit Reform Council has been told to analyse reform options for the state support of the massively important  non-profit sector. An independent Tax Studies Institute will be created to look into the wider architecture of the tax system itself, and to undertake serious empirical research into ways it can be simplified, using the best intellectual resources from our universities and elsewhere. The government will start to investigate annuities and deferred annuities being brought into the retirement system to provide more income certainty to the provision of private pensions. They’ll appoint an independent chair of the advisory board overseeing the ATO, anchoring the tax office into a bit more commercial reality. And finally, the government will lift the tax-free threshold to $21,000 when the fiscal position allows, enabling the removal of the Low Income Tax Offset.

While some of these initiatives were in the works earlier, others were not, and this provided the opportunity to collate related issues and programs together into a single thought orbit. Yet a forum such as this — bringing national debate back into the hands of people that actually know what they’re talking about — also produced some benefits many of us might not realise.

Many of the participants at the tax forum aren’t actually used to debating in challenging environments, spending most of their time either speaking to friendly audiences and preaching to the converted, or waging “debate” through media releases, media releases pretending to be newspaper columns or through short five minute interviews on current affairs programs that no one watches and fewer still care about.

Over the last two days, these folks had to confront some of their vested interests being dismantled before their eyes. There was no slick advertising to fall back on, no market tested slogans to fill capability gaps — it was naked policy debate where people had to own what they were selling. When their products started to stink, they had to own that too, in front of everyone.

A more healthier thing for public policy you will never see.

The government shouldn’t stop here — every four to six months they should convene a similar forum on a different topic (ageing population would be a good suggestion since sectors don’t talk to each other and are independently all trying to reinvent the wheel). Again, filling it with experts and not pretenders, filling it with people highly knowledgeable in their field and letting public policy ideas flow, letting solutions to problems be suggested and letting problems be exposed that the government might not even be aware exist.

Importantly, don’t invite politicians — not everything about government is about electoral politics. Let the Coalition or the Greens send a friendly think tank on their behalf. The absence of juvenile politics was one of the key reasons why the tax forum worked so well in the first place.

The other was that it was debate by experts, not pretenders. Debate by professionals, not professional noise makers in politics, the media or various flavours of rent-a-hack  — which goes a long way toward explaining  just why so many of the pretenders over the last few days are acting so aggrieved.

If you want to improve the debate in Australia, if you want real public debate in this country rather than the dismal sloganeering of the unhinged, this is a marvelous template. Debate informed by professional knowledge, professional experience and professional conduct.

On the other hand, if you want more Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, The Australian and the rest of the low-rent zoo peddling horseshit as a substitute then you know exactly what to do — absolutely nothing.

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150 thoughts on “Tax forum gave us naked policy debate and no horseshit

  1. GocomSys

    Thank you! This type of clear and unambiguous information is exactly what the broader public desperately needs to hear! Well done!

  2. Bill Hilliger

    Thank you for the well balanced information. I now await to hear as Joe Hockey-nomics was saying? A waste of time hmmm! Maybe the megaphone batteries have gone flat.

  3. dippa

    That last paragraph just warms my heart.

    I just wish it wasn’t true for the vast majority of debate -_-

  4. Michael

    “If you want to improve the debate in Australia, if you want real public debate in this country rather than the dismal sloganeering of the unhinged, this is a marvelous template. Debate informed by professional knowledge, professional experience and professional conduct.”

    Terrific!
    Then he goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like:

    “On the other hand, if you want more Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, The Australian and the rest of the low-rent zoo peddling horseshit as a substitute then you know exactly what to do — absolutely nothing.”

    Progressives! Just can’t help themselves.

  5. snoozer289

    It is finally nice to here some positive feedback with regards to the tax forum.

    The majority od commentators, media and opposition had written it off as nothing but a talk fest.

    Maybe it is time these people started to give credit and acknowledge that the current government despite being a minority is being a lot more pro active and effective

  6. Peter Bayley

    It worked because Tony (“Big New Tax”) Abbott thought it was just a TalkFest and didn’t participate – because he doesn’t “DO” talking

  7. Stiofan

    In The Third Man the narrator says that, while Americans were courteous and gentlemanly to beautiful women, he had yet to meet one who would kiss the sores of a leper.

    It’s a piece of p_ss for Governments to hold tax forums. I’ve yet to see one which held a public forum on cutting its own spending.

  8. cpobke

    Forums, summits and conferences like this are held every week. The only difference is that this one was a bit bigger than most and the media showed up.

  9. Space Kidette

    Hear! Hear!

  10. Scott

    Well, lets have a look at the effectiveness of the tax summitt based on the stakeholder dialogue engagement dimension model (Esben Rahbek PEDERSEN’s work for those interested)

    1. Inclusion – MEDIUM/HIGH. Pretty much everyone invited (except for the Liberal party)
    2. Openness – LOW. The government already ruled a lot of tax options out before the dialogue.
    3. Tolerance – LOW/MEDIUM. Government and business voices seemed to overpower community
    4. Empowerment – LOW. Government has the final decision as to what to implement.
    5. Transparency – HIGH. Summit had a fair bit of info from treasury. General public had access via on-line streaming.

    So as only two dimensions (Inclusion and transparency) recorded high engagement, the dialogue was only really useful as a discovery/knowledge sharing exercise. Add the lack of a good facilitator and no SMART goals produced at the end and you have an interesting, but ultimately futile exercise.

  11. Son of foro

    You must be mistaken. 94.9% of Herald Sun readers said the summit was a waste of time and money – even before it had ended. Such amazing foresight from the good readership.

  12. Observation

    Yes I think it was good to have a tax forum and we could have more on other subjects. They must stay open to the public because I have found the reporting to be factual and concise with very little spin. Quite refreshing.

    However there could be a chance this can get overcooked with forums all the time causing their impact to fade where the policy makers and public opinion become numb to the continuous content of ideas.

    My concern is that from these forums we end up with a vast array of committees working on all topics. And as I heard someone say when describing committees – They sit down to design a horse and end up with a camel.

  13. Jimmy

    The main reason people didn’t like this summit is that they think that results should be immediate, they fail to realise that changing our tax system is a slow and complex process, getting all the key players in a room to disuss the possibilities is just the start.

    The GSt is a perfect example which took the best part of 20 years between Keating raisning it and Howard implementing it.

  14. Scott Herbert

    “More healthier”?

  15. Suzanne Blake

    I guess the tiny minority on this Board, deserve their say, and they have.

  16. imacca

    Well done Poss. Interestingly George Megalogenis had an interesting and generally positive take on the Tax Forum as well.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/julia-gillard-soars-on-reform-wayne-swan-reverts-to-type/story-e6frgd0x-1226159610761

    Its the kind of thing that can work well for us in setting some parameters around the policy debate that aren’t totally subject to the short term politics of the day. But, for it to give the country most value, we need more in the media to lift their game and give good reporting and analysis that isn’t skewed by the fashionable bullshit meme’s of the moment.

    Hah, i loved the Hamster Wheel’s take on leadership challenge last night!!

  17. Gavin Moodie

    Come back Australia 2020 Summit: all is forgiven!

  18. Joe Lemmings Brother

    I guess the tiny minority on this Board, deserve their say, and they have

    Indeed you have.

  19. Stevo the Working Twistie

    What’s the point? The experts will come up with some amazing, fail-safe way to simplify the tax system, which will then get fed to focus groups to be thoroughly diluted before the government turns one tiny innocuous bit into a policy, which will in turn upset some powerful vested interest who will hijack the media and run a high-rotation ad campaign to scare us all into deciding it’s a really bad idea.

  20. Gavin Moodie

    True, but good ideas still get implemented, however imperfectly. Better an imperfect start than pure inaction.

  21. Scott

    Come on Jimmy. It was the Asprey committee in 1975 that first proposed a consumption tax for Australia..as a tax man you should know this.
    It’s not all about Keating.

  22. SBH

    I didn’t follow the debate but does anyone know if the amount of money (rather than who should pay it or how it should be collected) Australia needs to raise in taxation to run the country as its citizens require was discussed?

  23. Jimmy

    Scott – Sorry about the error but as I was only born in 1975 I thinkit is understandable. It reinforces my point though that it takes a long time for tax changes to come into reality.

  24. Scott

    Hey, so was I…no excuse 🙂
    You are correct about the delay between tax formulation and activation (Fringe benefits, and capital gains were also proposed by Asprey and were implemented in 1985, 10 years after proposal).
    I guess what a lot of us are disappointed with is that the Henry review already came up with a few options for tax reform, but this tax summit really didn’t add much to that (due to the fact it wasn’t an effective stakeholder dialogue)
    Still, I’ll give it 10 years and maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  25. Cynthia Crabapple

    Well done Poll! A very lucid and positive overview of the tax forum. I work in tax accounting and I couldn’t put what you’ve said any better. Please sir, can we have more. I ‘m so tired of the negative, simplistic, heresy commentary of Jones, Hadley, and Blurting Bolt et al.

  26. Catching up

    Maybe these types of forums have another use, that is to educate the public. They expose one to many differenting views. What can be wrong with that.

  27. Jimmy

    Scott – “I guess what a lot of us are disappointed with is that the Henry review already came up with a few options for tax reform, but this tax summit really didn’t add much to that” I wasn’t really expecting it to, it was more about rehashing Henry so that his ideas progress along that 10 year plus timeline.

  28. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Amen to all that Poss.

    And oh yes, why do “Regressives” always pop up to say stupid stuff about anyone they wish to label “Progressive”?

    Talk about childish.

  29. TheTruthHurts

    [“Maybe these types of forums have another use, that is to educate the public. They expose one to many differenting views. What can be wrong with that.”]

    Why doesn’t Labor stop talking about income tax cuts and actually do it?

    All Labor did when they increased the tax-free threshold for the breathing tax was axe the low income offset(which basically gave low income earners a similar level of tax free threshold as what they will get next year).

    But of course with Labor it’s give with one hand and take from the other which is why from 2012 onwards they have actually INCREASED tax rates on the different tax brackets to offset the tax free threshold changes so when you take into account the breathing tax most punters end up worse off.

    Why didn’t Labor just increase the tax free threshold and leave the tax brackets alone?

    I had to laugh when on the news the other day I heard a news reporter say if “Labor increases the tax free threshold everyone will get an effective tax cut”. Well NO, because Labor will just jack up the tax rates on the higher brackets.

  30. Suzanne Blake

    @ TheTruthHurts

    Thats right. Gillard and her inept crew are just puppets for the extreme Greens and their agenda of supporting their supporter base

  31. Jimmy

    TTH/SB – Gee both your personalities agreeing with each other what a shock.

    Before you go too far though you should look at the income tax rates in 2007 and the income tax rates now, you will see that there have been quite significant movements including raising the 30% threshold from $25K to $37K, decreasing the 40% rate to 37% and increasing it’s threshold from $75k to $80k, increasing the 45% threshold from $150k to $180k and increasing the low income rebate from $600 to $1500 meaning the amount at which you can earn tax free has effectively doubled.

  32. Ron Paul 2012

    So congratulations Rob Oakeshott?

    Can’t find his name anywhere…after all, it was his idea..

    Maybe the government should consider giving him a ministry?

  33. Suzanne Blake

    @ Ron Paul 2012

    No need. He has a secure job (thanks to Gillard) outside Parliament when he loses his seat at next election. That is a given. Just watch

  34. Jimmy

    SB – More light on facts and evidence posting for you, I suppose you heard something down at your local RSL at dinner last night did you?

    By the way I am still waiting on some answers from you, any chance of getting them time soon?

  35. san jose

    GREEN 2 THE XTREME!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Suzanne Blake

    @ Jimmy

    Just watch. Promise to eat my words if Oakeshott does not get a Government job after losing at next election or not even standing. Its a safer bet that death and taxes.

    That is why he is so smug and confidence, in thhe face of hiding in his electorate from confrontations with residents, outside secure forums.

  37. Gavin Moodie

    The suggestion that Oakeshott will have a secure government job after the next election assumes that Labor will win the next election, which seems to me most improbable.

  38. Suzanne Blake

    @ Gavin Moodie

    They will appoint him before the next election to some position that has 4 years or more tenure etc.

  39. Jimmy

    SB – You are quite full of it, they appoint him to a tenured post like what? And would this govt appointment require him to resign form Parliament?

    Still no answers to my questions, just more baselss drivell!!

  40. TheTruthHurts

    [“Before you go too far though you should look at the income tax rates in 2007 and the income tax rates now, you will see that there have been quite significant movements including raising the 30% threshold from $25K to $37K, decreasing the 40% rate to 37% and increasing it’s threshold from $75k to $80k, increasing the 45% threshold from $150k to $180k and increasing the low income rebate from $600 to $1500 meaning the amount at which you can earn tax free has effectively doubled.”]

    They’d be John Howards tax cuts which Rudd copied.

    Since 2007 Labor have been jacking up taxes left right and centre.

    Australians are sick of all these new taxes, the best person to spend our money isn’t the government it’s the punters working for it.

  41. Suzanne Blake

    @ Jimmy

    You are slow to comprehend today. They appoint him effective of him leaving parliament or not standing at next election. He is appointed effective the day before the Government going into caretaker mode.

    Look at how many appointments and decisions the NSW Labor Government made in its dying days before it went into caretaken. Some were even backdated, it has now been revealed and some are being looked at by ICAC

  42. Gavin Moodie

    That’d be Howard’s promised tax cuts which Rudd delivered.

  43. Suzanne Blake

    @ TheTruthHurts

    Too right, is it 20 or 21 new or increased taxes since Labor gave to minority government?

  44. TheTruthHurts

    [“That is why he is so smug and confidence, in thhe face of hiding in his electorate from confrontations with residents, outside secure forums.”]

    Actually I saw him on TV the other day, looks like the Libs have wiped that smug grin off his face.

    He looks tragic now. Poor bugger must be counting down the days till the end of his political life.

  45. Michael

    The only appointment Oakeshott will have after the coming electoral bloodbath will be with his psychiatrist. He looks & sounds positively deranged!

  46. David Hand

    It’s a pity this article lauding naked policy debate with no horse shit ended with such a low-rent zoo peddling horseshit final sentence.

  47. Michael

    @David

    Huh?

  48. Michael

    Let’s finish this thread with a “riddle me this, riddle me that”
    Cause the Maxists are exhausted.
    Nite!

  49. geomac

    If Abbott had won 1 seat more than Labor he would have led a minority government. Liberals backed by Nationals to have a majority in the house. Mind you there are WA nationals who differ from most others and of course libnats or is that natlibs in Qld ?

  50. Glenn Brandham

    Thank you, Posse, please keep it coming.

  51. GocomSys

    TTH & SB

    “If you want to improve the debate in Australia, if you want real public debate in this country rather than the dismal sloganeering of the unhinged — this tax forum is a marvelous template”.

    Please read the article above carefully and for once or at least for a little while give everybody a break from your senseless and yes “often unhinged” comments. In other words, as Possum says: “No more of your horseshit”. His words, not mine. Have you considered going for a long holiday? Twenty years or so? Would be very much appreciated! Thanks.

  52. TheTruthHurts

    [“Please read the article above carefully and for once or at least for a little while give everybody a break from your senseless and yes “often unhinged” comments. “]

    Okay lefties, lets talk on the detail.

    How much will Gillards Carbon Tax reduce world temperatures?

    How much of Gillards Carbon Tax will a competing Chinese product be paying when it sits on the shelf next to an Australian made product?

    Why does Labors Carbon Tax calculator on their own website say that any single making over a measly $50K a year will be WORSE off under a Carbon Tax yet Gillard keeps lying and claiming you need to be making double that to be worse off?

    Sure lets talk about tax, but don’t scurry off like scared rats when the hard questions come in.

  53. Ric Nixon

    What a load of crap, what rock have you been living under…………………….

  54. StrewthAlmighty

    TTH

    Jimmy just wants to talk about how much the tax rates have fallen due to Kevin Rudd matching John Howard’s tax cuts…. Jimmy – Labor have not reduced taxes!! As a labor lover you should be proud of that fact!

    For fun can I have a crack at answering your questions?

    1. Carbon Tax will have no impact on world temperatures whatsoever. In fact if it is successful in its aims to shift Australian production offshore it could contribute to an increase in temperatures (although we are not sufficiently equipped with the knowhow to ever know this). It will however make us all feel good about ourselves whilst doing Sweet FA about our contributions to carbon emissions PLUS raise many billions in taxes (without increasing them of course because Labor don’t do that).

    2. A Chinese Product would implicitly bear a portion of the Carbon Tax in its pricing if it was made with Australian exported materials where the Carbon Tax had been borne by the exporter. If however they were to switch and source raw materials from say Africa then the Chinese Product will bear Carbon Tax = NADA. On the bright side though – any entrepreunerial young Australian who wants to start up a manufacturing business to compete with the Chinese will have a decent supply of unemployed former mining industry workers.

    3. I think this is covered by the same Labor Policy that says “Climate Change is the Moral Challenge of Our Generation = Lets Ditch It Until Another Day = NO Carbon Tax Under a Govt I Lead = YES Carbon Tax”. I think broadly the policy is about floating with the breeze until a marginal seat poll result spits out a position to be taken (for the moment)…. or just straight up lying your ar*se off.

    Anyway, a bit of fun and detail at the same time. Neither of which was likely to be contributed by the lefties.

    They like their political discussions serious and never ever countenance the inclusion of detail, fact or reality…..

    Easiest way to unsettle a lefty? Just ask – “Oh? And how does that work?”

  55. Come On Aussie

    To :SUZANNE BLAKE,THETRUTHLIESBLEEDINGINAGUTTER,MICHAEL….

    Rob Oakeshott is one of the most honourable men in politics.
    I understand that the likes of a great man such as him are beyond your powers of perception to grasp but does he really make you feel so threatened that you have to resort to slander lies and threatening rhetoric?

    (That by the way was a rhetorical question as your comments already provide a clear demonstration of this)

    Try asking yourself what you yourself are doing to improve this country before trying to knock down someone who is doing far more than most and without the fortress of a major political party to hide behind!

    If Rob Oakeshott does lose his seat at the next election he will be able to hold his head proud as a hard working,honest man who stood tall in the face of disgusting slander in an effort to better his country for all ……which should be the aim of ALL politicians.

    Sadly you righties who have only financial rationalism to guide your ‘moral’ compass know little about the common good though so I shall save my breath.

    PS-if you want to engage people in a discussion of the facts first presenting some factual information yourself

  56. Michael

    @SUSIE B
    Wow, what a mouthful!
    Bad night hey princess?
    Yet when one sifts thru the PMT blabber you get to know the real Susie B. clearly a rather shallow but very angry little gal. Probably comes from a lack of tertiary education, an early pregnancy, 5 more kids @ to different daddys, you know, typical Port Macquarie single mum on the dole & passionate Labor/Oakeshott supporter but not too bright.
    Locked in your self inflicted existence and without a scintella of ambition or drive, your idea of happiness is getting pissed & layed on Thusd, Frid, & Sat whilst your next door neighbor looks after the kids.
    How’s that, have I nailed you?

  57. StrewthAlmighty

    Come on Aussie

    Legislation is no substitute for a moral compass. Eg Carbon Tax will do nothing to reduce carbon emissions whilst the average Australian drives home in their V8 to their 24 hr air-conditioned house to watch their 50inch flat screen…

    Pokie laws also won’t fix problem gambling but it will sure make people forget about the issue once they think “Govt has taken care of it”.

    Economics is a reality. Unlike leftist propaganda items, the non-left doesn’t create economics – they just recognize its existence.

    Personally I think it would be great if we could cut taxes across the board, provide full freight social welfare, tax subsidies for poorly performing businesses and a guaranteed job for everyone. However I learnt in primary school that 1 + 1 does not equal 17…..

  58. Michael

    Terrific post Strewth but wasted on these Crikey gum- nuts.

  59. Jimmy

    TTH & SB – So the Tax cuts Labor took to the 2007 election don’t count because Howarad was going to do the same thing? Just another example of your fantastically flawed logic.

    SB I am still waiting on those responses to my questions!!

    Strewth – “If however they were to switch and source raw materials from say Africa then the Chinese Product will bear Carbon Tax = NADA” Except that is for the Carbon tax the Chinese are introducing. And once the Chinese introduce their Carbon Tax what sort of tariff’s do you think they will apply to imports from countries who don’t have a carbon tax (or at least those without a carbon tax and not doing what china want on any given subject)

  60. Suzanne Blake

    @ StrewthAlmighty

    You are right, carbon tax here with do nothing, except destroy economy and make Australia uncompetitive, while India and China laugh and increase emissions a few hundred percent over existing levels of emissions. Forget per capita, its total emissions.

  61. Jimmy

    Suzanne – Any evidence for that statement, can you provide one reason why we should believe you over the hundreds of economists who support putting a price on carbon, the treasury modelling etc?

    Still no answers!!!

  62. Jimmy

    Strewth – “Personally I think it would be great if we could cut taxes across the board, provide full freight social welfare, tax subsidies for poorly performing businesses and a guaranteed job for everyone. However I learnt in primary school that 1 + 1 does not equal 17…..” Unfortunately your mate Tony didn’t learn this lessen apparently!!

  63. Michael

    Jim don’t argue with SusieB she’s as thick as a water buffalo & half as cute!

  64. Suzanne Blake

    @ Jimmy

    “Any evidence for that statement, can you provide one reason why we should believe you over the hundreds of economists who support putting a price on carbon, the treasury modelling etc”?

    Simple, they are PAID for what they are saying, and that drives outcomes.

    The sea levels according to Envirosat are the same as Dec 2003. The sea level in Sydney Harbour is lower than it was in the start of 1900’s.

    You lefties believe all this stuff, cause it suits your extreme agenda.

  65. Jimmy

    SB – So the Deloitte’s report that you quoted as proving the carbon tax would destroy jobs that the Victorian Liberals commissioned was fine but when economists such as John Hewson, Saul Easlake, the chief economist of all the big 4 banks and many many others sign a petition calling for a price on carbon and hundred of other economists internationally including nobel laurette Josepn Stiglitz also support a carbon price they are all being paid off by some big global conspiracy. And it “us lefties” that only believe what supports our “agenda”

    I shouldn’t be surprised at you demonstrating your lack of economic knowledge once again when you still haven’t answered my questions from last week.

  66. SBH

    TTH I’ve been through your posts and there’s nothing unreasonable in there. Just things I don’t agree with. So in the spirit of a debate on this matter I go to your original point:

    “Why doesn’t Labor stop talking about income tax cuts and actually do it?”

    which is relevant to the question I asked. Before we start talking tax cuts, how do we determine how much money government needs to collect in order to run the country? Before you go to the obvious answers of waste etc refere to Bob Carr’s response.

    Our education systems are chronically under funded, people routinely complain about hospital waiting times and we now have the lung transplant program cut back due to budget, voters always want more police and faster ambulances, public transport, which is a direct benefit to business and taxpayers suffers long-term failure to invest in infrastructure, governments have become addicted to gambling revenue and there seems to be nothing in the way of major cultural projects like you’d expect in a major first world economy.

    Isn’t it irresponsible to cut taxes without knowing how much income government actually needs?

  67. SBH

    And without advocating a position on the carbon price pollution scheme, on QI last night, Stephen Fry said that one pet dog creates more CO2 than a Range Rover (construction and use over life) does.

    I looked uncomfortably at the whippets.

  68. Chappy

    The Liberal Party didn’t attend because they would have been put in a position where their 10 billion black hole would have been exposed.

    This line of your story (Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, The Australian and the rest of the low-rent zoo peddling horseshit as a substitute then you know exactly what to do — absolutely nothing.)

    I’m in Melbourne and have to listen to Neil Mitchell dribble the same horseshit as Jones and Hadley, maybe not as feral as the aforementioned but just as adept at dribbling horseshit, please in future don’t leave Melbourne out of the subject matter when it comes to peddlers of horseshit ours may not be of the same quality but horseshit is horseshit.

  69. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    A serious classical lefty approach to fact distortion above. Rudd’s tax cuts were announced to match the tax cuts already announced by Howard. It wasn’t a case of Howard saying “I would have done that” as you intimate. You can’t possibly count matching an existing Lib announced measure as a “Labor initiative”.

    Amongst the distorted facts though you do make a good point. It makes sense for Australia to introduce a carbon tax if we would otherwise be penalized for our failure to do so. Better to collect taxes in Australia than pay them to China. However this is NOT the basis on which our carbon tax has been designed and the bulk of the lefties who are incapable of conscious thought still believe it has something to do with fixing climate change.

    Tony is not my mate. He and his mate little Johnny have made Big Govt an art form. They would fit perfectly as Labor leaders if only they weren’t so deadset against gay marriage…… Correction, they would fit perfectly as Labor leaders if they were just a little more incompetent (which is really the distinction between Liberal and Labor these days)..,,

  70. Stiofan

    @Suzanne Blake
    I think that Oakeshott would love some bullsh_t job from the Govt. However, it’s simply not practicable.

    In any event, why would the current Government want to give him a job? Even if he weren’t roadkill after the next election, why would they facilitate the exit of a supporter whom they may possibly need in Parliament after the next election?

    In politics, you only give jobs to people you want to get rid of or people who could be useful to you in the future.

  71. Suzanne Blake

    @ Stiofan

    Labor wont need Oakeshott again, and its their way of saying thank you. I bet its already organised.

  72. Stiofan

    @Suzanne Blake

    Believe me – nobody in politics says Thank You like that.

  73. Suzanne Blake

    @ Stiofan

    Labor do. Look at HSU fiasco. They scratch backs, it is their way. Both side organise cushy jobs, look at Beasley, Knowles (MDBA) etc

  74. Jimmy

    Strewth – “It wasn’t a case of Howard saying “I would have done that” as you intimate.” I didn’t intimate that, I said he would have done the same thing, I made no metnion of who said it first. Regardless who was implemented the tax cuts, the ALP, so for TTH to complain that the ALP should deliver income tax cuts when they have in every year they have been in office has to be shown for the ill informed comment it is.

    “However this is NOT the basis on which our carbon tax has been designed and the bulk of the lefties who are incapable of conscious thought still believe it has something to do with fixing climate change.” Can’t it be both!

    “Tony is not my mate. He and his mate little Johnny have made Big Govt an art form” so you just like to complain about everybody.

  75. Jimmy

    SB – I am still waiting

  76. Michael

    @STOFAN

    Oakeshott is a complete grub.
    He will be a political pariah after the next election, ignored by Labor, detested by LNP, hated by his previous constituents, disassociated from local business who can no longer use him for their self serving purposes. He will probably move interstate after a face reconstruction, change his name by Deed Poll, grow an Islamic beard, turn to Taoism & drive a cab (night shift).

  77. Jimmy

    SB -“Labor do look at Beasley” REally the ALP are the only party to appoint former leaders to ambassadorial posts, what’s Tim Fisher doing these days, what about Amanda Vanstone, where did she go again.

    Also remember as has been shown numerous times on this site just because you think something doesn’t make it fact. On that see Retail sales are up again last quarter and we still haven’t had that recession you predicted.

  78. Jimmy

    “Retail sales are up again last quarter” should of been month not quarter.

  79. Suzanne Blake

    @ Jimmy

    I said BOTH sides

  80. Suzanne Blake

    @ Michael

    “Oakeshott is a complete grub.
    He will be a political pariah after the next election, ignored by Labor, detested by LNP, hated by his previous constituents, disassociated from local business who can no longer use him for their self serving purposes. He will probably move interstate after a face reconstruction, change his name by Deed Poll, grow an Islamic beard, turn to Taoism & drive a cab (night shift).”

    Yes he has his problems, upset almost everyone.

  81. SBH

    It’s dissappointing that in all this talk nobody seems willing to grasp the threshold issue – how much tax does Government need. You can’t really have a sensible discussion about who to tax until you identify how much you need to raise.

    As for the characterisation of points in this ‘debate’ as left or right is really disingenuous if not dishonest. There’s not a struck match between the two sides and the abusive rhetoric is just silly.

  82. Steven Warren

    @ TheTruthHurts:

    We aren’t aiming at lowering temperatures. The situation is far beyond the point of lowering temperatures.

    If we implement the ETS and are actually successful at lowering our emissions to our stated level and every other country does the same we should be able to stop the globe getting any hotter than 4-6 degrees hotter (this 2 degree difference is what climate scientists are debating not whether this will happen at all btw) on average than it is now.

    Once we get it stabalised at that temperature range it will likely take between 400 hundred and one thousand years to reduce it down to the temperature it is at right now if we maintain the same level of CO2 emissions.

    If we don’t act now we will end up with the eventual average temperature of the earth being hotter than the 4-6 degrees expected. A large part of the 6 degrees is scientists making the assumption that flat-earthers will hinder governments response to global warming.

    Hope that helps.

  83. Jimmy

    Steen – Your hope is ill founded, TTH has been told that fact a number of times and yet he posts the same ridiculous drivel time and again.

    Thanks for trying though.

  84. Steven Warren

    @TTH: In answer to your question “How much of Gillards Carbon Tax will a competing Chinese product be paying when it sits on the shelf next to an Australian made product?”

    This is the primary reason why nations can trade credits in the worldwide ETS scheme.

    When we export steel for instance to China, first we would buy carbon credits from a developing nation (likely China), this cost is then added on to the cost of the steel.

    So basically China pays for the cost of the steel plus the cost of the carbon credit and they deplete their carbon credits instead of us depleting ours, letting us use our CO2 for power production and consumption for Australians.

    If China uses the steel internally then they bear the cost of the carbon credits. If they make beds or something else and ship it here, they of course will pass the cost back to us. This way nations pay for CO2 produced by their consumption.

    Hope that helps.

  85. Stiofan

    @SBH

    I raised that very issue at 1:32pm yesterday.

    @Suzanne Blake
    Do you really seriously believe that jobs are given to ex-politicians out of the goodness of the Govt’s heart?

    Here’s one way it works:

    “Mate, we think you ought to go. Don’t worry – we’ll look after you.”

    Quite often, the “looking after” takes place after a decent interval (just for the optics, as they say).

    What, you may wonder, is to stop the governing party’s ratting on a promise (eg, by letting the object of its affection retire and then not delivering on the promised reward)?

    The answer is quite simple: Prime Minister A knows that s/he has to keep her promises to retiring Minister B, because he or she knows that, one day, they’re going to be in B’s shows.

    Oakeshott is not part of the system, which is why he’s not going to get anything.

  86. Stiofan

    Or even in B’s shoes!

  87. davidk

    This can’t be right, I heard Eric Abetz only this morning telling us what a waste of time this forum was because small business hadn’t been invited. All week I’ve heard people dismissing Oakeshott’s proposal as a useless talkfest that would achieve nothing and that he dreamed it up so he had something to demand during negotiations with Gillard. Could it be that all these well informed intelligent commentators got it wrong, or were they just lying again?

  88. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    Labor have delivered tax cuts every year they have been in office? Seriously dude – didn’t I see you say somewhere that you had the tax rates above your desk? Open the book up!

    Carbon tax – if it has been designed to protect Australian industry from
    Chinese “carbon protection” then your buddies in the ALP have done a pretty poor job of selling it – even by their low standards!

    I reserve the right to criticize the actions of all superficial politicians lacking in leadership qualities. Sorry that you find it upsetting that all of Gillard, Swan and Abbott fall into this category…

  89. Suzanne Blake

    @ StrewthAlmighty

    Well said. Jimmy says he is an accountant, but he works in the ALP Spin Bunker with GoCOMsys and a few others.

    Great to see Rudd undermining inept and lame duck Gillard today again. Can’t wait for Rudd to return and backstab his backstabbers.

  90. StrewthAlmighty

    Steven Warren

    What do you propose to do about the 170 coal fired power stations India approved last year? Cross your fingers really really hard and hope they shut them down shortly after commissioning?

    Assume China’s plans are something similar.

    I would suggest that the only way to realistically achieve your aims is to divert US air strikes to developing world power generation. Just quietly I can’t see this happening.

    Taking account of the existence of reality, the Carbon Tax is what is commonly referred to as a “feel good measure”. Having said that if you are a worker or owner of an energy intensive business it will probably feel about as good as a red hot poker in the proverbial…..

  91. StrewthAlmighty

    SB

    I was thinking I might get Jimmy to do my tax. No matter what the reality of the situation I’m sure he’ll be able to come up with lower taxed!

  92. Suzanne Blake

    @StrewthAlmighty

    Don’t think Jimmy at Robin Hood Tax Pty Ltd is interested in your paying lower tax, they just want to re-distribute some of your wealth.

  93. TheTruthHurts

    [“What do you propose to do about the 170 coal fired power stations India approved last year? Cross your fingers really really hard and hope they shut them down shortly after commissioning?”]

    India’s population is increasing by 200 Million in the next 20 Years(yes you read that right 2 0 0 Million extra people).

    But apparently Gillards 5% cut to Australia’s 1% of global emissions will save the world.

    Wouldn’t we be better investing $1 Billion dollars in free condom drops over New Dehli and Mumbai?

  94. SBH

    Stiofan I see that you raised spending cuts but that’s not quite what I’m talking about. What I’d like to see is a discussion about what we need to run the country, have some agreement about that and then go about distributing the load. That debate doesn’t seem to be happening.

    Again TTH dissapoints with a refusal to genuinely try to debate or discuss an issue

    Suzanne @5.29 you really are a tiresome liar

  95. TheTruthHurts

    [“Again TTH dissapoints with a refusal to genuinely try to debate or discuss an issue”]

    I am being genuine and logical.

    India’s population is increasing by 200 Million over the next 20 years. Thats almost 10 Times the population of Australia in growth.

    I’m just wondering why the left has picked “climate change” as the big ticket issue when it’s clear the Earth has a population issue. Who decided this? Al Gore?

  96. GocomSys

    It’s interesting to monitor how long it takes until “positive commentary” or “educated debates” are hijacked by the “brain dead”.

  97. David Hand

    Hey SBH,
    Here are some thoughts on your comments about how much tax the government needs.

    The government has an infinite demand for revenue. An enormous agenda of spending would appear within a nanosecond of a lazy trillion suddenly appearing in the government’s coffers. So it is constrained by revenue limitations.

    Private commerce is far far better at creating wealth. That is why some of us advocate lower taxes. If you put more money in the hands of private individuals, the economy will grow, increasing the size of the tax base quicker than if you put it in government coffers. Don’t be swayed by all the left elite rhetoric about neo liberal economics. The GFC was caused not by market forces that have existed for thousands of years but by much more familiar factors – greed, fraud, robbery, larceny and plain theft. I hope the Occupy Wall St movement focuses on justice and crime and doesn’t get hijacked by marxist anti trade, anti market activism.

    Privately generated wealth creation is uneven. There are winners and losers. That is why the redistributive effect of the tax system is very important.

    So the challenge for the government is that next years’ revenue doesn’t exist in a chest under Wayne Swan’s desk. It has to be created by millions of Australians getting up every day, going to work and paying tax. The more they do that, the more revenue the government gets and the more spending on social services it can do.

    This is why economic growth has such a high profile with both major parties and if growth were to stop, it is the poor and disadvantaged who would bear the brunt of it, as we are now seeing in America.

    Bob Brown and his marxist friends understand or care about none of this.

  98. StrewthAlmighty

    It is also interesting to monitor how quickly the ideological left resorts to insults when confronted with reality, facts and common sense…

    David Hand – well put. The only additional comment I would make is that whilst Government had infinite capacity to expand spending they have very little ability to rein it in.

    This skewed incentive system means that generally we want Government to have the bare minimum available to them at all times (and another reason we should not let Governments borrow on our behalf).

  99. StrewthAlmighty

    In fact if anyone in Australia needs “income management” it is our Federal Government!!

  100. SBH

    The government has an infinite demand for revenue. see David, that’s the sort of dozy partisan rubbish that does nothing to advance debate.

    thanks again for your thoughtful contribution.

  101. SBH

    marxist” yes, that’s right, Australia is thick with Marxists. We get to 90 odd posts and you nongs decide to line up on the horseshit side.

  102. StrewthAlmighty

    SBH

    The point is that any time a dollar is given to Government it will be spent. This is not a partisan view but simply a comment on the last century or so of history and one of the key reason’s why Governments do everything in their power to ensure inflation.

    If this reality comes as a shock to your idealistic senses then simply work back through history and see how many times:

    – Govts have posted a long term surplus (say over a decade)
    – income tax brackets have been adjusted for inflation
    – Govts have been debt-free

    Of course spending every dollar and more is just a feature of Australian government. Feel free to do the same analysis in the US or any of the developed European nations.

    DH’s reference to Bob Brown and his fellow marxists is on the mark. Mind you – I wouldn’t necessarily say that Bob doesn’t care about the impact of his policies on the poor and disadvantaged. But he certainly doesn’t understand it.

  103. David Hand

    I’d like to emphasise that my view about governments’ propensity to spend is not partisan. It applies to both sides of politics and across the world. It’s a feature of democracy: if you want to get reelected, you will spend money on services that are popular with the electorate. Chronic defecits run up by both socialist and conservative governments are a negative aspect of our democratic process.

    Governments rationalise that defecits can be reduced in the future through the painless vehicle of economic growth rather than the painful process of taxation.

    Bob Brown and the Greens however, seem to see business and commerce as a metaphorical cow to be milked. They don’t seem to understand how interconnected everything is and how fragile the economy can be to clumsy populist intervention. There are many examples of this but the best recent example in the live export trade to Indonesia.

  104. Jimmy

    Strewth & SB – “Labor have delivered tax cuts every year they have been in office? ” I was referring to this ALP govt, from 2007 onwards as was TTH’s original complaint. If my wording was unclear then I apologise but the truth is between 2007 and 2011 income tax rates have come down.

    As for SB’s allegation that I am an ALP spin doctor well those in glass houses but it is completely untrue, I am an accountant is libearl heartland south west victoria.

    And strewth if you want to me “to come up with lower taxed!” I can give you an address to forward you documentation.

  105. Jimmy

    Oh and AB I am still waiting for answers to my questiosn, I cna’t believe that a foresnic auditor with a commerce degree is so afraid of discussing their economoc views.

  106. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    There is no doubt that rates have fallen from 07/08 to 11/12. That is because there were significant cuts in the early part of that period which were announced by John Howard and matched by Kevin Rudd.

    No-one is debating this fact.

    But since taking office Labor have done nothing in the way of meaningful income tax cuts (there might have been a slight tweak one year?) whilst at the same time introducing a range of new taxes.

    Overall therefore Labor have increased taxes during their current reign.

    Now you might argue that after matching the Howard cuts they didn’t leave themselves with any room to move or that Howard left behind an “infrastructure deficit” etc. But to claim that Labor have cut taxes is fantasy.

  107. Jimmy

    Strewth – TTH’s original post was “Why doesn’t Labor stop talking about income tax cuts and actually do it?” If he wanted to talk about overall tax burden he should of said so.

    “But since taking office Labor have done nothing in the way of meaningful income tax cuts” The tax cuts Labor introduced when they took office were staggered over 4 years, for intstance in the 2010/11 year the low income tax rebate was increased from $1350 to $1500 (up from $600 in the 2007 year) the $80k to $180k tax rate was cut from 38% to 37% (down from 40% and up from $75k in 2007) and the level at which the 30% tax rate cuts in was increased from $35k to $37k (up from $25k in 2007).

    This has resulted in someone on the average $69k income paying $300 less tax in 2011 than they did in 2010 and $1800 less than they did in 2007. Those earning above $80 and below $60k have actually done better than this.

    And not only did Howard leave behind an “infrastructure deficit” he left behind a “structural deficit” add in the dramatic change in global economic circumstances and those income tax cuts have been particularly generous.

    If you would like to provide some figures demonstratin your assertion that the overall tax paid by an individual in the last 4 year has increased I would love to hear them.

  108. Chappy

    @StrewthAlmighty
    I think in todays economic climate anyone that wants more tax concessions at the moment is only motivated by personal greed, the Government has just got us through the GFC as the only country in the Western world that didn’t go into recession with an unemployment level of only 5%, to be expecting tax concessions under the current world economic position is burying your head in the sand.

  109. StrewthAlmighty

    Chappy

    Not sure when I said I wanted tax concessions?

    Jimmy has been arguing that Labor have reduced income tax. That is only the case if you credit Labor with Howard’s tax cuts from 07.

    What I would like to see is a simpler, fairer tax system. Not for me personally – I can look after myself. But we shouldn’t have a system that relies on taxing the hell out of business and the middle class.

    On the topic of “head burying” I think the most dangerous case of this in Australia is Governments and individuals who think they are immune to the credit crisis that has been gripping the world for the last 4 years. Federal Labor has done nothing to ensure Australia is better positioned than Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy etc to cope with a sovereign credit crisis. The effects of the stimulus are largely in the past and all we have to show for it are a bunch of nice school halls, some nice photos from our bali holidays and more Government and banking system debt.

  110. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    I have never said that income tax has increased. Simply that it has decreased almost entirely due to the Howard/Rudd cuts announced in the 07 elections campaign and Labor’s main contribution outside of that has been to introduce a bunch of new taxes. I also acknowledged that there was some minor tweaking by Labor since then.

    Based on the fact your comparisons are always to the year preceding this election I take it that you agree with me?

    I agree with you that Howard left behind a structural deficit, his surpluses being entirely the result of a booming economy rather than any great fiscal achievement. However this does not take away from the fact that Labor have added to this structural deficit rather than reining it in. A f*cking useless person does not make themselves competent by comparing themselves to a reasonably useless person!

    Rather than attributing incorrect statements to me (another tactic straight out of the lefty handbook) feel free to identify anything that I have said that you consider to be incorrect and I will be happy to either debate it or correct it.

  111. Jimmy

    Strewth – “But we shouldn’t have a system that relies on taxing the hell out of business and the middle class.” Could you please put some meat on the bones of this statement, does a effective tax rte of 23% for someone on $80k class as “taxing the hell ouf of” or is it the 32% at $180k. or maybe somewhere in between.

    “Federal Labor has done nothing to ensure Australia is better positioned than Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy etc to cope with a sovereign credit crisis” have a look at the debt as a percentage of GDP to see the major difference. YOu might also like to compare pensions, retirement ages and tax collection (not tax rates but the ability to actualy collect tax).

    “The effects of the stimulus are largely in the past and all we have to show for it are a bunch of nice school halls, some nice photos from our bali holidays and more Government and banking system debt.” Oh and solid growth, low unemployment, neutral interest rates (you might like to compare them to the countries you listed above too) and low inflation.

    “Jimmy has been arguing that Labor have reduced income tax. That is only the case if you credit Labor with Howard’s tax cuts from 07.” Or if you include the income tax cuts passed by this govt, and I am still waiting on the figures for your claim of overall tax increases.

  112. Jimmy

    Strewth – “Based on the fact your comparisons are always to the year preceding this election I take it that you agree with me?” Of course I agree with you that is what I have been saying all along, but the fact is this ALP govt brought those tax cuts in, and they have been staggered over the 2008 to 2011 tax years maening that every year this govt has been in office income taxes have been cut making a mockery of TTH’s original claim.

    ” agree with you that Howard left behind a structural deficit, his surpluses being entirely the result of a booming economy rather than any great fiscal achievement. However this does not take away from the fact that Labor have added to this structural deficit rather than reining it in. A f*cking useless person does not make themselves competent by comparing themselves to a reasonably useless person!” So you want taxes cut but want the structural deficit removed at the same time, a tad contradictory.

    “feel free to identify anything that I have said that you consider to be incorrect and I will be happy to either debate it or correct it.” Well as I have requested earlier could you provide some figures that demonstrate”Overall therefore Labor have increased taxes during their current reign. ” (If you could make them specific to the individual that would be great)

  113. Jimmy

    “Based on the fact your comparisons are always to the year preceding this election” I also compared 2010 to 2011 to demonstrate the staggered nature of those tax cuts.

  114. Jimmy

    One last thing could you also explain how this current govt has increased taxes and made the “structural deficit” worse, taking into account the pairing back of FTB to high income earners.

  115. Chappy

    @StrewthAlmighty, You say: The effects of the stimulus are largely in the past and all we have to show for it are a bunch of nice school halls, some nice photos from our Bali holidays and more Government and banking system debt.
    You say the “effects” of the stimulus are largely in the past, then contradict those “effects” by saying all we have to show for it are a bunch of nice school halls, some nice photos from our Bali holidays and more Government and banking system debt.

    Wrong Strewth what we have to show is what I put in my original post, the only Western country not to go into recession and 5% unemployment, if we had gone down Abbott and Hockey’s road we’d still be in recession with 10% unemployment then you’d have something to complain about, the cost of recession and high unemployment would make the costs of the stimulus package look like lunch money in comparison, you also didn’t mention the pink batts which I had installed in my roof and are the best thing since sliced bread, the Liberals claim to be better economic managers than Labor but when you look at their economic record the results dispute this, in 1983 as treasurer Howard left Hawke a recession, when Howard came to power in 1996 he took over a rising economy that had been resurrected by Keatings fiscal decisions, after the year 2000 with all the money coming in from the mining boom through China this money was wasted on buying votes giving the undeserving middle class welfare, it was also George Bush’s Liberal policies (supported by Howard) towards banking that created the GFC so that this time as PM when Labor took over Howard had again left the economy on the brink of collapse.

    You could say Howards record is a perfect record of imperfecti

  116. SBH

    Jimmy, Maybe Strewth wants us to leave the beleagered middle class and Bourgeoisie (yes David Hand, the ‘B’ word – we have f*ck all marxists but truckloads of petit bourgeois) alone and tack the very poor and the very rich. Seeing as exec salaries went up 8.9% last year and miners are making fortunes that would make Croesus choke, Strewth thinks that’s where tax should be raised? Maybe he’s a georgist.

    and enough of the tax ‘burden’ everybody. Nobody bleats about the pubic hospital, school, road, police, defence etc ‘burden’. Tax is what we pay to live in a first world country. If we started seeing it as an investment and not as a burden, people’s dishonest, selfish and parsimonious attitudes to tax might change.

  117. SBH

    ‘tack’ wtf? ‘tax’ of course

  118. Jimmy

    SBH – “Tax is what we pay to live in a first world country” completely agree, look at the income tax rates in the US and think about who is better off.

    As for Strewth isn’t it funny he says “Rather than attributing incorrect statements to me (another tactic straight out of the lefty handbook) feel free to identify anything that I have said that you consider to be incorrect and I will be happy to either debate it or correct it.” and then I ask him a few simple questions and he disappears, very much like good old Suzanne.

  119. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    We seem to be going in circles but to keep you happy:

    08/09 – cuts and bracket increases – the Howard/Rudd cuts

    09/10 – cuts and bracket increases – more of the Howard/Rudd cuts

    10/11 – slight change to 15pc bracket and drop in second rate from 38pc to 37pc – I can’t recall if these were Howard/Rudd cuts and have been happy to allocate them to positive minor tweaking by Labor

    11/12 – introduction of flood levy

    Feel free to do the numbers on Flood levy versus Drop from 38 to 37 but I am happy to call them both “nothing” on a materiality basis.

    So on income tax Labor have done nothing material outside of the Howard/Rudd cuts (and to be clear – I don’t think anyone would expect them to!)

    However away from income tax they have introduced a broad range of new taxes that will affect people to varying degrees. It is not really possible to quantify this.

    However I guess if you are a low income earner who doesn’t spend any money then theoretically your benefit from the slight tweak in 10/11 (assuming that wasn’t just the last lot of Howard/Rudd cuts) could put more in your pocket then the carbon tax, mining tax etc will take away…

    Is that your point?

  120. Jimmy

    SBH – I knew what ou meant.

  121. Jimmy

    The 10/11 tax cuts were part of the Rudd tax cuts which makes them a labor govt tax cut. They also include a raising of the low income rebate and the threshold at which the 30% rate cuts in from $35k to $37k, so a bit more than the slight tweak you assert. Your assertion that just because Howard was going to make similar tax cuts if he was elected doesn’t change the fact that Labor proposed and implemented these tax cuts

    “could put more in your pocket then the carbon tax, mining tax etc will take away…” The carbon tax comes with another round of income tax cuts for low and middle income earners and the minig tax which will have no real impact on the amount of tax paid by either the individual or business (as the miners can’t set the price of their goods) will also lead to a reduction in the company tax rate, so the 2010/11 tax cuts will be more than the vast majority of people will pay.

    “However away from income tax they have introduced a broad range of new taxes that will affect people to varying degrees. It is not really possible to quantify this.” And yet you have no doubt that people are now paying more tax in total?

    Could you also answer my other question ” how this current govt has increased taxes and made the “structural deficit” worse, taking into account the pairing back of FTB to high income earners.”

  122. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    No-one ever disagreed with you on these points. The point was simply that the only changes Labor have made were more or less the same changes the Liberals had already announced. ie Labor’s sole claim to being tax cutters are the Liberal cuts they copied.

    As for the carbon tax measures – are they going to reduce tax overall or increase it? If the former you can count them as a tax cut and the latter then that would be what they call in the industry “raising taxes”.

    Mining tax – so this is a net giveaway by the Government is it? If not – then people are going to be paying more overall aren’t they? As an accountant surely you can “account”?

    I think the issue is that you want to count “wealth redistibution” as “tax cuts”?

    To answer your question:

    1. The Govt has increased taxes by introducing new ones – primarily the carbon tax and mining tax. Labor themselves acknowledges that they will raise some revenue. In the world I inhabit (reality) this is an indicator of tax being increased.

    2. Structural deficit – I don’t even get what the FTB for high income earners has to do with this? If you look at historical Govt spending patterns you will see that there was a significant increase under Howard that was masked by the increase revenue of the boom years. ie Government uplifted its spending habits based on temporary revenue (and hence created/expanded a structural deficit). This higher spending level was increased further under Rudd – thus further expanding the structural deficit expanded/created by Howard (created or expanded depending on how you look at it – but in any event this is an irrelevant point).

    CHAPPY

    I’m not here to defend Howard or his and Costello’s economic record. Clearly they benefited greatly from both Keating’s reforms and the boom of the early 2000’s. And I’m certainly not going to defend Dubya.

    Let’s have the discussion about how good an idea it was to run up debt to keep alive an oversupply of construction services once China has its inevitable slowdown…..

    Or to ask the question of you…

    Stimulus has been spent. Debt levels are up and the construction industry is starting to hurt.

    Now what?

    For some reason I can’t seem to spot the structural changes that have been made in the last few years to allow for this bleedingly obvious scenario…. I can only assume the Labor geniuses are all over this one?

  123. Jimmy

    Strewth – TTH’s original post was “Why doesn’t Labor stop talking about income tax cuts and actually do it?” Regardless of who’s idea it was Labor has been cutting income taxes since it came to office.

    “Mining tax – so this is a net giveaway by the Government is it? If not – then people are going to be paying more overall aren’t they? As an accountant surely you can “account”?” The miners will pay more tax, people won’t. The miners can’t pass the tax on because the don’t set their prices. The coreesponding cuts to the corporate tax rate may be passed on as they will add to the bottom line of companies who can set their price.

    “As for the carbon tax measures – are they going to reduce tax overall or increase it?” Polluters will pay the tax but again some of those costs will be absorbed and not passed on.

    “Structural deficit – I don’t even get what the FTB for high income earners has to do with this? If you look at historical Govt spending patterns you will see that there was a significant increase under Howard that was masked by the increase revenue of the boom years” One of the biggest increases in govt spending under howard was the FTB (it certainly wasn’t on infrastructure, health or education) making it very relevant. The other cause of the structural deficit was the income tax cuts, this meant that there was permanent year after year ever increasing spending on the FTB and permanent decrease in the tax being collected with the difference being paid for by the proceeds of a temporary boom.

    Now you want tax cuts, you don’t want a structural deficit, you don’t want the govt to get a bigger slice of the mining boom and if you watn to cut back the FTB you are negating the impact of the tax cuts.

  124. StrewthAlmighty

    Jimmy

    Miners are owned by and employ people, as do polluters. Somewhere in the economic chain a real person has to bear the cost of these taxes.

    I seem to be making habit of suggesting what you might argue BUT you could argue that Labor have net shifted the tax burden to non-residents thereby making these taxes effectively a tax cut for Aussies. Not sure that this ultimately holds true but it is at least an argument!

    Without having checked the numbers I would be surprised if FTB for high income earners was the key element in our structural deficit. If it was then Labor shouldn’t be having any problem posting a surplus. Happy to stand corrected on this if you have info to suggest otherwise. I’m just guessing that cutting out FTB for high income earners hasn’t saved them a significant portion of their 300 billion or so of annual expenditure??

    BTW – as i have said repeatedly I am not asking for tax cuts! I certainly don’t want a structural deficit (who does other than politicians and their beneficiaries?) and I am happy for States to increase mining royalties, particularly if the proceeds can be used to cut inefficient state taxes.

  125. SBH

    Well Strewth, how about a land rent or single tax?

  126. StrewthAlmighty

    Depends on how you are suggesting they would work?

    Something akin to a glorified land tax? More in the nature of the states rights re minerals? (which they of course already have)

    Seems to me that they are highly theoretical concepts that start breaking down pretty quickly when applied to real life scenarios. Happy to be convinced otherwise if you can describe a decent system.

  127. StrewthAlmighty

    Also worth pointing out that anything that shifts economic ownership of land back to the “people” increases the risk of damage to that land (ie environmental degradation) by virtue of no-one having a long term interest in the land’s welfare.

  128. Gavin Moodie

    I think Henry proposed a land tax. One could simply require land owners to pay 0.1% of the value of their land in tax each year.

    National parks, the local botanical gardens and the local art gallery are all owned by the people and most are maintained in excellent condition.

  129. SBH

    Well, Henry George outlined a fairly comprehensive system, Marx didn’t like it, Freidman did. Have you got a suggestion?

    It’s worth pointing out that people seem quite able to f*ck up our planet under current tax systems so I don’t know that how you tax people is the problem.

  130. Steven Warren

    @Strewthalmighty

    In the various treaties and discussions between all the world powers when talking about dealing with climate change it has been agreed that developing nations like India can actually increase their total emissions while developed nations will lower theirs.

    Before you have a cry about that, they are still limited by how much they can increase their emissions and given both India and China are in the middle of transitioning to being developed nations their energy consumption is pretty much guaranteed to increase but they have agreed to work to reduce this.

    So the first reason this is happening is to limit the growth in these countries.

    The other reason is because developing nations like China and India need stuff like aluminium and steel to use for their development. Essentially the will need to buy stuff from countries like Australia that generates large amount of CO2 in it’s production but they will still require to use their current power capacity to provide power to their citizens.

    Aluminium production in Australia accounts for 15% of our power consumption btw and is nearly entirely powered by coal. Given a large amount of this is exported it seems a little unfair that we get penalised for this. If only we had some sort of trading system that would let us pass the cost of this onto the consumers of the aluminium…… oh wait:

    India already has an ETS (China will be starting one when we do so dry your tears there as well) so this means if they want to buy aluminium from us we simply purchase carbon credits from them, apply the cost of the credit onto the aluminium and then export the material. Essentially our export industry will ignore our cap on emissions and the developing nation getting stuff of us will use theirs leaving ours to power our computers and air-conditioning.

    Hope that helps.

  131. StrewthAlmighty

    So Indian consumers drive the production of aluminium (together with associated electricity usage) and we get to purchase carbon credits from them to “offset” it?

    Yep… sounds like a really good system…

    Your explanation above (which is a good one) helps illustrate why our carbon tax is unlikely to do anything to reduce emissions.

    Indian consumers keep on demanding aluminium at the same rate (due to lack of price signals) and if Australia ups the price to reflect carbon tax impost they source it from somewhere that doesn’t have a carbon tax.

  132. StrewthAlmighty

    Gavin

    So you want a system where the tax is only meaningful to those on low incomes, struggling or using their land for altruistic purposes?

    SBH

    The point wasn’t that tax systems f*ck up the planet but that a tax system that detracts from private ownership may have the effect of increasing the incidence of “tragedy of the commons” type scenarios.

    We manage to look after public land OK where the public has a strong interest in it and where user fees can be charged to fund maintenance (eg popular national parks). But take a look at the average roadside public land and ask yourself whether you want the entire countryside looked after like that….

  133. Gavin Moodie

    I don’t understand the objection. Charities are currently exempted from income tax as they are from at least some land taxes. A land tax would encourage others who can’t pay an annual tax to sell it to be bought by people who can pay the tax, presumably mostly from using it more productively. This is exactly the type of reallocation of resources that a tax system should encourage.

    Of course some public land is neglected, just as some private land is neglected. It’s just that public ownership isn’t necessarily neglectful; or the tragedy of the commons applies in only special circumstances which are easily avoided.

  134. StrewthAlmighty

    Public ownership is more inclined to neglect as no single person or group of people have a vested interest in ensuring it is looked after and the person using it on a day to day basis may not necessarily have its long term interest at heart (think rental properties, hire cars etc).

    My “objection” to your system (aside from the fact that philosophically there is no more reason to be taxing someone’s land then say their sporting talent, intelligence or good looks) is that you have Government actively discouraging passive land use – wilderness parks, public access gardens, leaving land dormant to regenerate etc in favour of active use of the land (mining, farming etc).

    There is also no philosophical reason why we should be encouraging land to be “turned over”. And when other Government interference relating to land (esp state taxes, subsidizing cheap loans through the banking system) work to discourage turnover it would be a bit silly really….

  135. Gavin Moodie

    ‘Public ownership is more inclined to neglect . . .’ is simply ideology unsupported by evidence.

    A person’s ownership of land – their ability to exclude others from using it – is a right granted and enforced by the state. It is theirs only by the conventions of the state which are not ‘natural’ and may be changed to suit the interests of the the state, or preferably, its citizens. It is no less desirable to tax land than income.

    If we are to persevere with a capitalist and indeed a materialist economic system then resources should be put to their most productive use. Most passive uses are either not productive or their value is mostly public and in which case they have to be supported by the state as exceptions to the capitalist system.

    I agree that governments should remove transfer duties and subsidised loans, for the same reason that they inhibit the reallocation of resources to their most productive use.

  136. StrewthAlmighty

    Gavin

    Sounds like you are suggesting “capitalism on steroids”?

    Rather than individuals having the right to choose what they consider “best use”, best use is deemed to be the most productive use and Government regulations are designed to support this outcome?

    Do we extend it to individuals’ labor as well? Labor tax based on your max earning capacity even if you don’t want to work anymore or want to dedicate your time (or part thereof) to non income earning activities?

    The current system both taxes land just for the hell of it plus takes a share of production (through income tax). I really think the farmers (who are the major owners of “productive” land) have a hard enough time of it and pay more than their fair share without being whacked with extra.

    I’m not a farmer BTW but I know a few.

  137. StrewthAlmighty

    BTW sounds like we agree that transfer duties and a subsidized banking system are unhealthy and should be ditched ASAP.

    GFC and the Euro crisis have proven that free markets and a Govt subsidized banking system don’t mix too well, especially when combined with Govt mandated investment criteria.

    I would certainly put a revamp of our banking system as a higher priority than reforming the tax system. Not sure if you agree but if you do suspect we are well and truly in the minority.

    Of course if we were to do this then this would probably be enough to see the massive turnover of land that you want to see come to fruition… unfortunately though it would be mainly unproductive residential property!

  138. SBH

    GFC myth number one, there was too much state intervention. No, there may have been the wrong kind but unrestrained free markets are an ideological lala land.

  139. StrewthAlmighty

    Greenspan wasn’t a key contributor to the GFC? Government regulated/subsidized bank lending wasn’t a factor?

    Euro crisis? Nothing to do with Governments?

    You did mention la-la land…!!

  140. David Hand

    Hey SBH,
    I agree with you that free markets have flaws and weaknesses that require regulations and laws to restrain them. But the GFC was mainly caused by government intervention that pushed lenders such as Fanny Mae into ninja loans. Following on from this were the dodgy derivatives they were packaged into by Lehman et al. I don’t see too much free market principles in any of that. I do see a lot of deceit, theft, snake oil and crime however.

    The Euro crisis looks to me like massive government debt where countries like Greece have run up such a huge deficit the country is bankrupt. I don’t see much free market there either.

    A financial system where large banks and corporations can routinely rob the rest of us without contravening any laws has absolutely nothing to do with free markets.

  141. Gavin Moodie

    Governments currently tax the transfer of land, thereby distorting peoples’ ‘right to choose’ to dispose of their land when they want. Governments tax income from labour but don’t tax income from capital gain, or tax it at a very discounted rate, thus distorting peoples’ ‘right to choose’ to earn their income from work. Governments do not tax owner occupied residences but taxes the rent from tenanted properties, thus distorting peoples’ ‘right to choose’ to rent rather than buy their accommodation, etc.

    In a capitalist economy governments should always tax in the most economically efficient way, and a tax on land is very efficient.

  142. StrewthAlmighty

    Gav

    Efficiency is only element of a good tax system. Fairness is another.

    Taxing a portion of the population (those that own land) doesn’t sound too fair to me, particularly when the bulk of Government services provide no benefit to landowners. As I have said – the whole land rent/tax philosophy seems to be based on the fallacy that land of itself produces value to its owner.

    This might have been true a century or so ago when these philosophies were invented but it is simply not true today… certainly not in Australia.

  143. Gavin Moodie

    I agree that fairness is an important principle of a tax system.

    I’m not suggesting that the only tax be on land; I’m suggesting that a tax on land be added to a tax on income. Taxing income but not land distorts economic activity and is ‘unfair’ in putting too high a burden on income earners because there is no burden on land owners.

    Land should be taxed not because it is inherently productive, but because it is inherently valuable. Governments tax gambling, for example, not because is is productive but because it has economic value.

    Governments should raise taxes to fund their activities in general, not to fund services for the particular group of taxpayer being most heavily taxed. In general, hypothecation is not a useful tax principle. If one thought that taxes should be raised most from their main beneficiaries then the highest taxpayers would be pensioners, people with disabilities, people on military pensions, etc.

    Notwithstanding that, land owners benefit very considerably from the state. Their property rights depend on a system of law established by Parliament, managed by the courts and ultimately enforced by the police, all paid from taxation.

  144. Steven Warren

    @Strewth all the other major suppliers of aluminium like Canada are also starting ETS schemes.

    The ETS only doesn’t seem to do much if you only focus on the Trade segment of Cap & Trade.

    The cap is in fact the element of trading schemes that will attempt to lower emissions whereas the trade element focuses on firstly (as I showed above) making sure various countries are held to account with their emission caps for their own consumption and secondly on changing what sort of energy we purchase locally.

    China and India have been given cap levels higher than their current consumption levels at the time of the various climate treaties, because it was determined that they would need to be able to provide better qualities of life for all their citizens in the future. (As an aside all other developing nations like Ireland got the same treatment)

    They are still limited to how much emissions that can produce and it really won’t be long before they hit their caps and need to start reducing their emissions. Basically we gave them some lee-way because they are still putting basic infrastructure in place.

    It was also pretty much acknowledged by this that they were going to be buying stuff from developed nations for a long time so basically they have been given credit to keep consuming our products.

    We are actually thinking about the best interests of our exporters by agreeing to international trading schemes. Hooray for capitalism.

    ————–

    On the subject of changing what we purchase locally I’m not actually talking about switching to green energy by the way. Despite the fact the change to green power is talked up by the proponents of the ETS in reality due to the massive price difference between fossil fuel and green energy sources (nuclear actually costs more than green power before someone jumps in claiming it will save the planet) it’s far more likely it will initially just push energy production to whichever form of fossil fuel generates the least amount of carbon for the Gigawatts of power it produces.

    This isn’t actually a bad thing and is effectively lower emissions but telling people we are initially trying to push from brown coal to some other form of fossil fuel like black coal or oil would probably worry poll driven politicians so it doesn’t really get brought up.

    ————-

    The reason an entirely trade based system wouldn’t push green power generation is quite simply this: If a gigawatt of power is generated for $200 by coal with $100 of that being carbon credits and at the same time you can purchase a gigawatt of power from a green source at $190, the market would immediately move to buying power from green sources.

    If power was purchased from coal the government would receive $100 and give back $90 in compensation so basically the consumer would pay $110 but given the way the energy trading system works at this point the higher initial price (before compo) would mean that green energy would be purchased instead with a real cost of $190 to the consumer.

    At this point the market would correct and the price of credits will drop to some figure like $80 so that the total cost of purchasing a gigawatt of coal power would be $180 and after compo the consumer would be paying $128.

    Yes, this does mean that larger carbon credit price = lower bills and that as the cost difference between green and fossil fuel power decreases the cost of power bills will very gradually increase. Anyone who says otherwise is deluding themselves but as a gradual change it is a far better system that an immediate change to green energy.

    Whenever the price of renewable energy drops in comparison to fossil fuel power it’s likely this correction would occur. This would guarantee that the lowest cost power source that does get compensation will get switched to by the industry, given that a portion of the cost is the carbon credit cost.

    ——————–

    As I said above the Cap element of cap and trade is what forces the switch to renewable energy because with slowly but steadily decreasing amounts of carbon credits available each year the least profitable business that generate carbon dioxide will be forced to switch to renewable power as scarcity will force the prices of carbon credits up till they sit just below renewable energy prices.

    People who are saying there won’t be cost involved in change are deluding themselves, there always is. What this system does is make the cost changes as gradual as possible to make the transition easier.

    If rising bills are becoming a problem you can always choose to consume less energy. That is a stark reality of the problem we are facing. We either need to consume less or consume more effectively.

    It really is the best of all the systems we could put in place. It’s not perfect but unless you can come up with a better system than capitalism to fix the problem it’s the only real choice we have that is likely to cause change.

  145. StrewthAlmighty

    Gav

    If we’re back to taxing “value” then I reiterate my earlier comments about taxing sporting talent, intelligence and good looks. Land doesn’t have any greater value than anything else. $100 of land is worth the same as $100 of jewellery, a $100 car or $100 cash.

    Sounds like you are really wanting a “wealth tax”? There is some merit in taxing people on increments in wealth (as opposed to just continually taxing them on the same (or diminishing) wealth) since it would help do away with avoidance and concessional taxation of particular types of income. You would just need to work out a way to let people match their tax payments with the realization of the incremental wealth.

    Again, I don’t really feel the compelling need to force farmers to sell up their properties just because a valuer says its worth a hundred grand extra this year.

    Steve W

    Thank you for the in-depth analysis. I am guessing you are more than just an interested punter?

    The only problem I have with it is that it assumes essentially that Australia operates in a “vacuum”. Your assumption that the Cap will lower emissions works if business has no other option but to pay up for Credits. However the reality is that business can produce from many other countries which won’t have carbon taxes or indeed customers will simply switch to producers from those countries rather than buying Australian.

    Now quite possibly $23 is not sufficiently large to cause a significant shift of this type but it is also not sufficiently large to cause material changes in behaviour. As the price pushes up so will the incentives on business to move and customers to change suppliers.

    Of course all this is good for Australia’s UN CO2 emissions scorecard (since we have effectively kicked production out of the country). However on an overall basis there has been no reduction in global CO2 emissions and quite possibly an increase if production is now sourced from a country that has less in the way of other environmental standards.

    The other factor is that in between these options you have the “middle case” of businesses buying up international offsets of dubious quality. Whilst they are unlikely to add to CO2 emissions we certainly wouldn’t be reducing emissions by the amount we are giving ourselves credit for.

  146. Gavin Moodie

    As it turns out, I do support a wealth tax, but I suggest that is a different issue.

    There is indeed no difference in principle between $1m worth of land, cash, jewellery or cars. But there is a great difference in the practicalities of taxing land and goods, cash and other intangibles.

    Land can’t be moved off shore or its ownership effectively hidden from tax authorities. That seems to be a qualitative difference from goods, cash and other intangibles. There is also a difference of degree. While it is unusual for people to have cash, jewellery or cars worth $3000,000, it is quite common for landholders to own land worth $300k. So whereas the tax commissioner would be chasing goods, cash and other intangibles worth relatively modest amounts, most landholders have substantial value to be taxed.

    I’m not sure I understand the point about taxing intelligence, sporting talent or good looks. Here I think it is worth recalling Marx’s distinction between use value and exchange value. Intelligence, scientific ability, artistic talent, sporting talent and good looks have considerable utility in the sense that they can be of considerable use in writing Das Capital, developing a general theory of relativity, painting the Moulin Rouge, etc.

    But these attributes don’t necessarily have much exchange value: Marx and Lautrec died in poverty and Einstein wasn’t particularly wealthy. In contrast Charles Dickens and Picasso became wealthy: their talents’ use value also had considerable exchange value. I don’t think it is practicable nor particularly desirable to tax use value but it is surely both practicable and desirable to tax exchange value, or income for short.

    I infer a reluctance to tax land because it would force the asset rich and income poor to sell their land. Consider 2 farms. One is on land which is very fertile and is also close to an expanding city. However, the landholder prefers to keep their land reserved for its glorious forest which supports endangered species. The other farm is on marginal irrigation land in the Murray-Darling.

    The introduction of a land tax may force the first landholder to sell their land or clear and farm it and it may force the second landholder to farm and irrigate more intensively. Both outcomes would be regrettable in my view. It may force other asset rich but cash poor farmers out of business. That social dislocation would also be regrettable. But amongst those regrettable outcomes would be the general transfer of land to more productive use, and that general beneficial outcome of increasing productivity would be worth the regrettable outcomes and social dislocation that the reallocation of land would entail.

  147. Steven Warren

    @Strewth Actually I am just an interested punter. I have no qualifications in energy or environmental science and don’t work in either industry. I just got so fed up with journalists and politicians on both sides of the debate dogmatically reciting rhetoric that is often specious that I actually went and read up on the subject.

    After reading the energy industries guides on how the energy market actually works like:

    http://www.aemc.gov.au/Media/docs/The%20Wholesale%20Elec%20Market%20in%20Aust%20-%20NERA-dfc9ce45-8398-4d43-896b-1fca0311779e-0.pdf

    It becomes pretty clear how the system will work if you understand how any other market like the ASX or FOREX and also the sort of problems the market is currently experiencing with using green power.

    If you have a look at page 33 of the report I linked it covers the generation capacity of South Australia by type of generation and what sort of power generation was actually consumed (don’t worry it’s two pie graphs).

    20% of their states power capacity is coal, 65% of capacity is natural gas and 10% is wind. For actual consumption though 56% is coal and 0% is wind.

    Even if we assume that the coal generators their run at 100% 24/7/365 this basically means that the existing wind infrastructure in SA could be providing 50% of the states power generation but quite simply because of the price difference in fact none of this is ever used.

    Even during off-peak times coal is guaranteed to be used because typically coal plants actually pay people money to purchase their initial 20% output because it is cheaper to sell the power for negative dollars than it is to refire up a coal plant once you shut it down.

    The two main points of the ETS is that the government is firstly taking a small percentage of the fossil fuel power companies turnover to fund green technology and secondly it is leveraging that by a factor of 10 to force price parity with less polluting forms of energy.

    As a result we may actually use the green energy sources we have already produced that currently just sit around idle as depreciating assets.

  148. StrewthAlmighty

    Gav

    Sounds like you are pretty into and committed to this system so I won’t try to continue talking you out of it. I am a strong believer in property rights and their enforcement by Govt as being critical to having a viable nation whereas you clearly take the complete opposite view.

    A few remaining points:

    1. I agree with you about land being more easily taxed (and regulated/taken). Same goes for deposits with banks, shares etc. Hence why I would always recommend to people that they hold a portion of their assets “outside the system” as an insurance policy (gold, silver etc).

    2. You are clearly not an environmentalist! Whilst I don’t condone over the top Government environmental regulation I certainly wouldn’t condone Govt incentivizing activity that would otherwise not have happened or penalizing “non-productive” behavior.

    Remember of course that we do already have a land tax. I don’t think the one we have is overly onerous but I wouldn’t like to see it strengthened.

  149. Gavin Moodie

    I am a strong environmentalist and gave that example to indicate that I was willing to accept even possible environmental degradation as a consequence of a land tax.

    The states have different land taxes. The ones I’ve seen are pathetic and give the lie to the states’ bleating that they don’t have a decent tax base. They would have a much better tax base if they taxed land properly. Neither is there anything stopping them reintroducing state income taxes. And while they’re at it, they can reintroduce probate duty.

    The state have such narrow tax bases because they want to impose taxes that are either hidden or otherwise aren’t unpopular. We haven’t got vertical fiscal imbalance so much as vertical political imbalance.

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