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Saturday, 25 May 2019

How 'fair' was Labor's policy to increase redistribution by raising taxes on the 'top end'?

One of the things I found most irritating about Labor's election campaigning was their constant assertion that raising taxes to spend on more 'redistribution' to reduce inequality was 'fair', and that the coalition policy to provide some income tax relief to those on above average wages was terribly unfair. I suppose it all depends on how you define 'fair'.

According to Labor, greens and other 'progressive' parties, any inequality of incomes or assets in 'unfair' and the role of government policy is to play Robin Hood - taking from 'the rich' and giving to 'the poor'. The confuse to goal of equal opportunity with that of equal outcomes.

We already have a progressive tax system, which ensures that those that can 'afford' to pay for the country's essential services does so, and also ensures that social welfare is provided to those in need. Does it need to be even more progressive? I doubt that many people realise how progressive it already is. I came across an interesting 'fact check' that was done back in 2015 when Hockey (then treasurer) made a statement that 50% of all tax was paid by the top 10% of the working population. The fact check confirmed this. But what I find even more interesting is that a phenomenal 98% of all income tax is paid by the top 50% of the working ie. those earning more than an average wage!

Whether or not it is 'fair' that 98% of the funding (in terms of income tax) to run the country is provided by only half the population (ie. the other half are basically free-loaders), I can't see how increasing that tax burden even more in order to hand out additional 'support' to the bottom half is 'fair'.

In any case, fairness (or unfairness) of redistribution is in the eye of the beholder. Those voters who will end up paying more taxes and not receive any direct benefits will tend to vote against such policies, and those who won't foot the bill, but will receive substantial benefits, tend to think it is a great idea (and self-evidently 'fair'). It is also the reason why younger voters (who often pay little or no tax) tend to vote more to the 'left' and older voters (in peak earning/taxpaying years or retired after a lifetime of paying taxes) tend to vote more 'left'.

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