I read a lot about the need for increased fairness and equity in society… that we are living in a world where the goal of being a more fairer and equitable society is under attack, where the masses are being subjected to increased inequality at the hands of the few. Our political leaders and media seem hell bent of reminding us daily that it’s tough and it’s getting tougher.
Leaders and policy-makers have identified that there is a need for increased social investment and that the equitable means to fund this, is through changes to tax laws which they believe have allowed high income earners to flourish at the expense of the masses.
In reading the various media takes on policy announcements, you would think that the inadequacies of our various tax systems are the root cause of the inequity felt. We are told that if capital gain concessions are reduced, negative gearing is eliminated, highest marginal rates of tax are increased, the apparent tax benefits of using trusts is reduced and the amount you can incur to manage your taxation affairs is capped, that substantial in roads will be made into our collective sense of inequality.
Although, we should always look at the effectiveness of our tax system and the related means tested transfer payment systems that subsidies the vast majority of Australian families, I really wonder whether we wake up each morning thinking that changes to these policies are going to be the key drivers to making the country a fairer and more equitable place.
Alternatively, could the sense of inequity be fuelled by the perceived loss of certainty and security of our place in our world, now and into the future? Expectation is a powerful thing. Our grandparent’s expectations of fairness and equity were completely different to our current expectation. We live in a consumption-based economy where our expectation of our entitlement to a fair share of the economy’s limited resources is so much higher than that of our grandparents. In addition to this higher expectation, the world’s population has grown from 2 billion in 1927 to currently 7.5 billion. So not only have we witnessed the competition for resources exponentially grow with the worlds population more than tripling in less than 100 years, we have a far greater expectation as to the level of services, infrastructure, quantity and quality of life we are entitled too.
So I think there is a good chance that the masses who lived through
- the pre-industrial revolution feudal systems, or
- the industrial revolution, or
- world wars and or depressions etc,
would consider our world to be a far fairer and equitable one to what they experienced. So maybe our sense of fairness and equity does not keep pace with our sense of entitlement. The funny thing is, my grandparents seemed to be far more content with a much reduced sense of entitlement.
Hopefully, our political leaders can demonstrate some real leadership and open up the debate beyond cheap shot “them v us” taxation policy grabs which over-simplify an important issue that needs to be addressed.