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Marc My Words - 26 March 2004

Marc My Words - By Marc Alexander MP.

United Future NZ. MP

26 March 04

TAX: a State sanctioned weekly mugging of the work ethic . There has been a renewed call on both sides of the ideological divide to raise prosperity. What brave and deluded soul would dare argue against increasing society's wealth? It sounds like a fine idea but, as in most things, a mischievous sprite lurks within the details.

On the one hand, we have the intellectual lethargy of beady-eyed socialists who can only conceive the organic fruits of one's labour as being none other than a crowning social accomplishment - not to be shared on the basis of contribution, but according to a theory proposed primarily by those who expend more energy talking about capital than earning it.

On the other, we have those who see their work as an integral extension of their life's expression. The former can be distinguished from the latter in a significant respect; they are exceptionally generous in handing out all that has been reaped from what the latter has sown. And the mechanism they manage to accomplish this is by way of one of life's great certainties - taxes.

The government uses taxes to provide goods and services but the imposition of taxes is not altogether in proportion to the benefits to the one who paid the taxes. Bluntly, the more you work to create wealth the more you are expected to pay for the privilege. Seen in this light it can reasonably be argued that 'tax' is really the cost, or price, that society charges the individual for being productive.

Worse...the more an individual works to produce that wealth, the more society insists that that individual pay even more taxes! Unlike a loaf of bread, a car or a holiday, the price of working has no fixed value but rises as a cost depending on how much you earn. It's like seeing the price tag of a good or a service - not in dollar terms - but as a proportion of what you contribute to our total pool of wealth!

Now...no one would suggest that there are no costs attributable to our social obligations. We do need to pay for the social goods that we all benefit from and these include looking after the effects of disadvantage.

But surely there must be a limit. We cannot go on expecting people to continue paying long after their reasonable social obligations are met. That simply kills incentive. After all, we don't apply the same logic on the rugby field. We don't engage with fewer players or handicap them just to make it a 'fair' contest; we don't stop artists from being 'too good'; yet when it comes to our 'work' we make a point of restricting our success by imposing the debilitating constraints of a progressive and uncapped tax.

The irony is that I've never yet met any socialists who dig into their own pockets and willingly pay any more tax than they are legally obliged to. They do not put their money where their ideological mouth is. The real travesty is that the price of their beliefs is paid for by the work of others.


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