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Maxim Real Issues No. 127,

Real Issues No. 127, 9 SEPTEMBER

Growing tax take threatens democracy Collision of religion and politics $6 father question Te Awamutu workshop next Monday 5 principles of Civil Society talk

Growing tax take threatens democracy Our economy is booming and the government's treasure chest is bulging. The total tax take figures released last week show a rise of 40 percent since Labour took office. Since 1999, the government has collected an extra $34 billion. The government has more of our money that it needs. More than reason or justice demands. So why can we not have tax cuts? The move from 33 cents in the dollar to 39 cents for those earning over $60,000 was obviously unnecessary. That rate now affects 10 percent of all tax payers rather than 5 percent two years ago. There are a number of very good and just reasons why any government should not take an excessive amount of tax off its citizens. First, it gives the state too much power. It is a temptation to manipulate its citizens' favour with handouts and to consequently build up an expectation of dependency. The danger is that rather than being primarily used to help the poor, excessive funds will be used to increase the number of dependent votes. Democracy is threatened as more voters get tied into the status quo and the government continues to be tempted to support a captive voting bloc.

Collision of religion and politics Media coverage in New Zealand of the horrible events in Beslam, Russia, has shown little insight into the important context of both history and religion. The identity of the Islamic terrorists appears to have been obscured and the silence on the religious faith of those killed is disarming. In the region of the Russian Caucuses Mountains, which is predominantly Muslim, the area of Ossetia is the only Christian enclave; its 700,000 residents are almost all of the Orthodox faith. It is there that the Islamist terrorists deliberately carried out the slaughter of children, women, and men. What we need is some depth of media investigation on issues such as this where religion and politics collide. Religion and politics are inextricable. The common false assumption is that the secular media is neutral and religion prejudiced. Worldwide, the intersection between religion and politics is going to become more intense, so understanding the two in context is even more vital.

$6 father question When a sole mother refuses to name the father of her child, she is penalised by a reduction of $22 a week in her DPB. A new Social Security Amendment Bill proposes increasing that penalty by $6 a week from July next year. It will also widen the definitions of who is exempt, if sole parents or their children would be at risk of violence. Both these measures are commendable, but are unlikely to achieve the Bill’s stated purpose: to encourage more fathers to contribute to their child’s support. Act Deputy Leader Muriel Newman says: "...it creates strong incentives for mothers to avoid penalties by claiming that either the father is violent or that he is a deadbeat dad who isn’t worth naming and wouldn’t pay up anyway." Petitioner for a parliamentary review of the DPB, Lindsay Mitchell, points out that the family support component of their benefit will rise by a minimum of $25 three months earlier. So even with the new penalty, sole mothers who refuse to name the father will still be $19 better off than they are now. This will not reverse the number of sole parent beneficiaries who do not name the other parent which has increased from 7965 (6.5 percent) in 1993 to 19,467 (14 percent) this year. The law cannot provide every child with a loving relationship with their father, but it can make a start by providing as many children as possible with the knowledge that they have a father and require greater responsibility. A $6 increase in the penalty will not achieve this.

Te Awamutu workshop next Monday Maxim is presenting at Change Agent workshop in Te Awamutu next Monday 13 September to address the direction of social policy and culture in New Zealand and what people can do about it. Issues will include the civil unions, education, hate speech and political correctness, as well as providing practical tips on engaging in the processes of public policy and debate. For details and to register visit:

5 principles of Civil Society talk Do you live in the Waikato and want to know more about what a Civil Society looks like? Maxim Institute managing director Greg Fleming is guest speaker at a Liberal Forum event next Friday 17th October in Hamilton. The venue is the Hamilton Club, Grantham Street starting at 7.30pm, cover charge is $5. For more information contact Joanne Reeder Tel. (07) 856 8334.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Thomas Jefferson That Government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.

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