Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Budget 2005: Tax Cuts - Squandering our Future
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 over a couple of centuries.
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 from mid-to-late Victorian times into the first half of the 20th Century, & have barely been maintained since.
Now we have a chance to repair & *improve* these, learning from earlier mistakes. This is what will give a good foundation 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.
For instance, 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 improving energy or transport systems (eg fixing/rebuilding bridges or taking freight off roads, which reduces 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.
An educated person might be lost to their particular profession, but it's not likely they'll lose all their skills, they may return to it, otherwise they'll probably 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 useful skilled job in a different field (though I'd prefer to feel I was contributing more to society &/or the world).
If 12% of Australians are in the current top tax bracket, 88% are lower. The majority of us know that if we strike trouble - like my recent medical & family crises - we will need social support. Not just trustworthy & affordable health care, but someone to help the aged mother I care for, meals on wheels, community nurses who aided my convalescence, etc.
Even if you have help from family or friends, that other 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 community support for spending on services - even if people doubt that spending will go towards what they most value.
There could be a lot more said on this, which I won't go into.
EXCEPT those who say: "You'll spend it all and we won't have anything left when there isn't any surplus." Note that I wrote about putting the investment into things, both physical & social that will stay.
AND: for the furphy about "Oh, these are State, not Federal issues". 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, trickling down to Local government. Remember that fuss last year about NSW's share being cut? There are also several bodies which co-ordinate Commonwealth & States to look after particular issues either nationwide or like the Murray-Darling or Great Barrier Reef.
2004 Budget; same problem
A couple of related posts: Uses of Universities; A persistent taxation myth (1) (2); Public good; public lands; public services - see my contribution
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Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.