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Its a taxing time


It is said that death and taxes are life’s only certainties, and personally I’m not entirely convinced about death. But if ever you are tempted to believe that the government doesn't care about you. Stop paying tax and you will find they care a great deal.

Purchase a tomato and 15 percent of the price is tax. Buy some smokes and 80 percent is siphoned off. Wage slaves are kept content with tax deducted at source. Out of sight is out of mind so they say. If you see the money only as a numerical deduction on a pay slip, it hurts less handing it over to government coffers. Business owners and the self-employed face the rigours of terminal tax which, if the Mercantile Gazette is to be believed, it has often proved literally to be.

We are now taxed at the unprecedented rate of 37 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the highest in this country’s history. In 1860 the total tax take in New Zealand was 5 percent of GDP. By 1947 it had risen to 17 percent. In 2000 it had doubled to 34 percent. These figures do not include the millions in fines, rates, fees and other sundry 'service' charges levied on citizens all but powerless to resist them.

We would, I suspect, be asking a few questions if our per capita annual death toll had risen by over 700 percent in the last 155 years. This is exactly what has happened with taxation in New Zealand, yet very few ask why.

New Zealand is a producer nation; we export 96 percent of our produce yet we pay global prices for the 4 percent left behind. Dairy farmer payouts have plummeted, yet the price of milk remains high. Our dollar strengthens and exporters struggle but there is no commensurate decrease in the price of petroleum and other high value imports. We are an abundant fertile country producing what the world desperately needs more of – food, fibre, forests and films. Well, maybe the world doesn't need more films but I couldn't resist the alliteration. In spite of this we are still a debtor nation. Our national debt stands at over $101 billion and our government continues to run an internal deficit.

The Coca-Cola company's only resources are its ability to produce, distribute and sell nasty sticky soft drinks that no-one needs and are generally accepted to be unhelpful to a healthy diet. They make a profit for their shareholders doing this yet we have at our disposal a whole country, a pretty good one at that, and we can't manage it profitably. Where does the money go?

All of us born and bred here are shareholders in New Zealand Inc. Increasingly our individual share of this country’s land and resources diminishes as public assets and access to other resources are taken over by multinational corporate interests. In return we have received a share of government and Council debt manufactured in our name that neither I nor my fellow countrymen, regardless of their race colour creed or political persuasion have given any consent for. We've been swindled of course, and have been for ages. No one really minded when resources were plentiful and taxation was at moderate levels. Now though we are all feeling the pinch it is time to address this fraud.

I am happy enough to subscribe to a social contract whereby we all chip in to fund services that benefit society in general. It is those that lord it over us who, though perfectly able, prefer to use their much lauded talents, usually more lauded than actual, to squeeze from the populace as much as possible whilst giving very little in return who must shoulder much of the blame. The concept of tax is reasonable but when is enough enough?

In yesteryears when we paid less tax we were considered to be a wealthy nation. Government used taxes to build infrastructure: the power grid, railways (admittedly not very good railways) telecommunication networks. State-built houses sprouted up everywhere and health and education were completely state sponsored. The state trained and employed engineers, technicians and a huge range of tradespeople and labourers. These people made things and fixed things on behalf of New Zealanders. There was no student loan scheme, tertiary students

received a bursary. Doctors made house calls. What does today's greedy public sector make or fix? Most state sector obligations are now contracted out to private companies – often times multinational megaliths.

There are too many weasels who contribute little to the general well-being of society yet reap huge rewards out of proportion to their minimal contribution. Some prove a positive drain on general resources. The reality today is that over a third of our wealth is purloined by government and distributed to a ‘public sector’ that contributes little or nothing to our gross domestic product. Meanwhile much energy is put into creating regulatory obstacles for those who do. That's the way the money goes, maybe it's time to pop the weasels?

n prof_worzel@hotmail.com

We would, I suspect, be asking a few questions if our per capita annual death toll had risen by over 700 percent in the last 155 years. This is exactly what has happened with taxation in New Zealand, yet very few ask why.

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