Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Taxes: Building Our Future

Taxation for the 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. These sorts of "public goods" have, in history, been badly served by private investment, and taxes are needed so they can be invested in these, to help tide us over future difficulties.

    One type of capital is our natural resources: fertile topsoil, clean fresh water, fisheries, etc, etc, etc. Recently there was an estimate of $10 Billion to restore them to function on a long-term, sustainable basis. (We have only begun to recognise how important some of the unseen supports like this are once we'd knocked a few out, eg, the multiple causes and effects of salination.)

    The other is the massive public (& private) investment in our urban and rural infrastructure: water & sewerage systems, transport (not just roads) for goods & people, energy generation & distribution, communications, as well as health systems, education, firefighting services, etc, etc. Many were developed over the century from mid-Victorian times to the middle of the 20th Century, & haven't been maintained much since.

Now we have a chance to repair and, indeed, *improve* these, learning from earlier mistakes and using more efficient, less toxic methods. This will give a good basis for our descendants to improve their lives, instead of scraping by, slowly getting worse, regretting lost opportunity.

Most of these projects, public or private will need some sort of support from public funds, either directly or through rebates or deductions. Now every tax rebate or deduction has to be made up from somewhere; either cutting someone elses' services or raising their tax (that's why I don't claim my charitable donations). Thus anything attracting such support should be really making a contribution outweighing that if you use "triple bottom line" accounting which takes into account the usually-hidden impacts on those two capital resources, and on the social structure.

A skilled population, whether it's tradespeople, engineers, doctors or nurses, is a valuable resource in itself, and an investment for the future. Yet the present PM, reported in Hansard introducing a training bill, actually described the training part of a person's time as not "productive". Doesn't bode well for his government's support of improving our workforce.

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.
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 / . Lives in Australia/New South Wales/Sydney, speaks English. Eye color is hazel. I am what my mother calls unique. My interests are photography, reading, natural history/land use, town planning, sustainability.

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Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.