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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Darth Watch: Sense & humbug in equal measure 

First, on the topic of the latest verbal diarrhea from the Peters Party - what Yamis said. Anyone who can talk of an "open door" immigration policy in NZ clearly has no experience of it. None. Zilch. Nada. Maybe it was easier when Peter Brown immigrated back in 1921, but it's fucking difficult now.

Now, for the substantive topic of today's talk, children, I give you the latest offering from the august Mr Darth George.

Today, Darth opines on tax. And he doesn't even throw in trite Bible quotes about tax collectors, or rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's! Well, actually, that last bit would probably undercut his argument somewhat, since Darth doesn't like tax.

First, Darth has a go at GST, "which is a double-dipping tax on our taxed income and deprives us of 12.5 per cent of our spending power." There are actually strong arguments for reducing income tax before consumption tax (in order to promote savings), but I'm inclined to agree with Darth about the ubiquitous nature of GST in NZ. While it is simple, it does mean that the price of essentials (in which our friend in the four-litre Ford includes fuel, of course) are more expensive than would otherwise be the case. Quoth Darth:
I can think of no better contribution to the well-being of New Zealanders, particularly those on low incomes, than to make food, water, electricity, motor fuel, rates and medical expenses exempt from GST.
Well, my list might be slightly different - I'd include University fees, and argue for a different system for taxing fuel altogether - but basically I think he's on the right track.

Darth then has a gripe about the way the official inflation figure is (under) calculated, when he knows damn well that "Butter has risen 91 per cent in the past 12 months, cheese 60 per cent and milk 21 per cent. Meat and fish have become so expensive that many families have to do without both." Not sure where that last part came from, but I do wonder whether diets lacking in butter and cheese might actually be health-promoting. And I say this as someone who likes cheese in particular.

Darth then serves up a useful reminder that he is a Muldoon/Peters style populist conservative, rather than a Shipley/Brash neoliberal attack dog:
The result is that while the Government, the producers, the suppliers, retailers and businesses in general keep on doing very well thank you, the public, as usual, is getting screwed harder and harder.
Darth then returns to the topic of GST, making some useful observations around petrol- "Motor fuel is already heavily taxed, so the GST (which goes up every time the tax goes up) is, on the Government's part, triple-dipping" - and the much more agreeable and equitable GST system in Australia, where food and medical expenses are spared.

However, Darth's public goodwill only goes so far ... it's only fair that a man with his column can be self-serving from time to time, and argue for GST exempt private health insurance and, get this, income-tax free pensions: "Another example of double-dipping is income tax charged on pensions and benefits. These, since they are paid from out of taxation, should be tax-free."

Listen, old timer, when the government uses its revenue to give you an income, it's - err - and income, and therefore subject to taxation like any other. Still, teachers, nurses, and doctors in the public systems might like to try that logic: "We're paid out of tax revenue, so why tax our incomes again?!"

Good luck with that.

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