Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Tax Cuts - Squandering our Future?
My entry in a guestbook asking for comments on recent speculation that this Budget will spend a large expected surplus on giving large tax cuts - which would mostly benefit higher-income people. There could be a lot more said on this, which I won't go into.
EXCEPT for the furphy about "Oh, these are State, not Federal issues".
And just where do the States get the majority of their funding? Most of the money is collected by States and by the Commonwealth & put into the "kitty", then split up & distributed, some via State, some via Federal government, trickling down to Local. Remember that fuss just recently about NSW's share being cut? There are also several bodies which combine Commonwealth & States to look after particular issues either nationwide or like the Murray-Darling or Great Barrier Reef.
AND: "You'll spend it all and we won't have anything left when there isn't any surplus." First, note that I wrote below about putting the investment into things, both physical & social that will stay.
A person educated as an engineer or doctor or nurse or teacher might be lost to that profession, but it's not likely they'll lose all their skills immediately, they'd probably return if they have to change for a short while, otherwise they'd probably - if the government-controlled circumstances allow - go to a different, but still skilled & worthwhile job.
I've lost my skills as a biologist & medical researcher over the last 20 years, but work in a fairly skilled (if averagely-paid) job (though I'd prefer to feel I was contributing more to the world).
A well-built sustainable water collection, distribution & purification system will take some maintenance over time, but will last without huge extra investment. The same for energy or transport systems (eg fixing/rebuilding bridges or taking freight off roads, thereby reducing road damage bills). A big push into reforming (in the genuine use of the word) agricultural practices & land-use, or ways of building cities can lay a good foundation for centuries of advance instead of continuing decline.
Tax Cuts - Squandering our Future?
Australia is living off two great sources of capital laid down earlier, but we are not renewing or building them up - a bad sign for the future. The bulk of any surplus should be re-invested in these, to help tide us over future difficulties.
One is our natural resources: fertile topsoil, clean fresh water, fisheries & so forth. Only recently I think there was an estimate of $10 Billion to restore them to function on a long-term, sustainable basis after the damage done to them.
The other is the massive public (& private) investment in our infrastructure: water & sewerage systems, transport (not just roads) for goods & people, energy generation & distribution, as well as health systems, education & other vital parts of our society's structure. Many were developed in late Victorian times, into the first half of the 20th Century, & haven't been maintained.
Now we have a chance to repair & *improve* these, learning from earlier mistakes. This will give a good basis for our descendants to improve their lives, instead of scraping by, regretting lost opportunity.
Like the mutual building sculpture above Martin Place showing how a man can't break the bundle of sticks bound together, though each could be broken with ease one-by-one, the point of government is to bundle together our money and effort to do the things that singly are very difficult (how many of us can buy or build a new train or hospital?). And private companies are run for profit, not to provide a service.
If 12% of Australians are in the top tax bracket, 88% are lower. The majority of us know that if we strike trouble - like my recent medical crises - we will need social support. Not just trustworthy & affordable health care, but, say, someone for the aged mother I care for, community nurses who aided my convalescence, meals on wheels, etc.
Even when you have help from family or friends, that support stops the total ruination that you too often see in both the third world & the US when a crisis hits someone. That's why there's support for services - even if there's doubt that spending will go towards what you most want.
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