The poor – deserving or not?


I’ve been having a wee debate with someone (don’t know who – ah, the joys of Internet anonymity) re Australia’s debate over raising the minimalist jobseeker payments (about $AU49.50 a day or $AU693 a fortnight, and a review committee has just recommended increasing it by $AU20 a day).

Many people – shall we call them liberal progressives – suggest Australia should drop proposed [2024] tax cuts to those earning somewhere more than $AU100,000 annually and use the $AU18 billion or so that this would ‘save’ in order to fund higher jobseeker and other similar ‘welfare’ payments.

I am – let me confess it right now – one of those liberal progressive types.

This was my debating opponent’s sally to the suggestion that tax cuts should be dropped and that in fact taxes on large businesses and wealthy individuals should be increased:

The wealthy aren’t an endless tap for taxation. It simply continues and increases the lack of accountability; as we can just always and simply tax someone else more to fix some others’ problems. There are limits before increased taxation either reduces overall national tax income or (much more likely) creates perverse market distortions that just make things worse.

Anonymous social media commentator

And this was my response:

I suspect you and I have very different ideological positions on this matter… Anyway, regarding just this: ‘The wealthy aren’t an endless tap for taxation…’

I’d argue that the wealthy are a legislatively under-utilised tap. Tax avoidance, clever accounting, offsets, franking credits and depreciation are not loopholes afforded the ‘poor’.

And what mathematical explanation – other than entropy and the end to our species – can you provide for why the wealthy could not provide an ‘endless’ (long lasting is better) tax stream? The reality is that a fairer taxation and financial system will improve society; the well heeled and comfortable will benefit from the use of tax revenues to improve the lot of the so-called poor.

I actually challenge the ideological underpinnings of jobseeker – it is not fit for purpose, as you point out, because people do get trapped on it. And they are trapped not because they are lazy or because they don’t want to work but because a range of circumstances and systemic issues prohibit their participation in the ‘job market’. And yes, there probably are a few – a very few – genuine dole bludgers out there BUT THEY ARE A RARITY. I’d prefer an end to welfare payments and the catalogue of obligations foisted on recipients being replaced by a universal basic [or living] wage. We’d all be better off (after a time)… and yes, the wealthy would need to pay a larger share [endless, if you like] of tax.

Given that very similar debates are occurring in many other nations I thought I’d share this with my two readers….

Comments most welcome. And you don’t need to buy me a cup of coffee.

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