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KISS - the taxation system

By John McRobert - posted Wednesday, 17 February 2010

For as long as we persist in the concept of "plucking the goose", we will deny any decent relationship between those who govern and those who are governed. The entire equation has to be rewritten.

Are we living in a “free” country or are we still living in feudal times where the ruling classes can tax willy-nilly to fund their circuses and even their peccadilloes? Surely citizens of a free country should be employing their government to defend their life, liberty and property. Surely public servants should be there to serve the public, not pluck us to the limits of electoral endurance. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum as they say. We live in a time where, “No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session” (attributed to various sources).

For anyone remotely interested in the subject, the book For good and evil - the impact of taxation on the course of civilisation by Charles Adams is well worth reading. When taxes become too onerous, citizens either vote with their feet, or they revolt and overthrow the oppressive government, often with much bloodshed, and too often with an even more oppressive government in control.


The Roman historian, Tacitus, circa 80AD, had the opportunity to study the styles of numerous Roman emperors, and made an interesting observation. The most successful Emperors were those who had simple and just rules, even if they indulged in a few peccadilloes which at least distracted them from the temptation of making more rules. The least successful were the bureaucrats, who tried the “nanny state” approach, and who concocted rules for every occasion, with increasing police-state enforcement of those rules. Tacitus wrote in his Annals and Histories of Rome, words loosely translated from the Latin as “When the rules were most numerous, the Commonwealth was most corrupt”.

That quote should be carved in stone over the entrance of every Parliament in Australia. It can be best comprehended in the context of living in the outer suburbs when outdoor dunnies were still de rigueur. If the rules required costly “perfection” as specified by some bureaucrat (e.g. ceiling insulation, solar panels and a limit meter on the daily flushes), the householder had four choices: 1) do nothing if the extra costs made it unaffordable; 2) if it could still be afforded, pay through the nose for unnecessary requirements; 3) break the law and build it, at risk of being fined or jailed in the event of being found out; 4) slip a metaphorical case of scotch to a buddy in the Planning Department to obtain official sanction through the back door.

Reading between the headlines of the daily news, the 4th alternative is a not uncommon occurrence.

Our taxation rules became too complex and to bypass the complexity a system of “rulings” was introduced whereby official sanction was given to various business activities. Inconsistencies and opportunities were apparent to those “in the know” and the Nick Petroulias affair was the tip of the iceberg in the rulings fiasco. He was locked up and his undoubted abilities have been sterilised by a corrupt system.

Many others have fled the country to low-tax opportunities offshore, and there are now about 100 Australians working in a thriving banking industry on a low-lying coral atoll in the Caribbean, The Caymans tax haven has even attracted accounts from five subsidiaries of the Australian Government's Future Fund “to minimise its taxes” (Jacob Saulwick, Sydney Morning Herald, October 2009).

As Shakespeare presciently wrote in Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”.


(And Copenhagen curiously was the scene of the latest government assault on our freedom and our senses with new and amazing plans to tax and control “emissions”. If an ETS is introduced, that would require a new army of lawyers, accountants, auditors, administrators, police and other bureaucratic paraphernalia to control and enforce the slippery concept of “emissions”. The control and taxation of “emissions” would provide governments with ultimate power over the populace, and our hard-fought-for freedom would be destroyed with the stroke of a legislator's pen.)

Here in Australia we have rapidly descended into a nanny state situation, and in addition to a flood of new cradle-to-grave rules and regulations, entire government departments are now devoted to the mystic art of changing the climate and in pretending to do so, employ an army of spin doctors to justify their existence. No matter how many forms they devise, or how many carbon certificates they issue, this is fraud on a monumental scale.

But the underlying Tax Acts must also be cleaned out. They are the lead in the saddlebags of production - tens of thousands of pages of rules and regulations demanding compliance are an abomination, and only fundamental reform can tackle this problem which is suffocating production and exchange.

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About the Author

John McRobert BE (Civ) is the Managing Director of CopyRight Publishing. He is the author of A Diet of 2%.

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