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Post-industrial, post-cognitive

By Bryan Kavanagh - posted Thursday, 28 July 2011

We've graduated from tiresome trivialities such as manufacturing, because we're now oriented towards tertiary industry. We've machinery and appliances to assist us and have become too smart to be involved in physical work. So, as the education and knowledge we've acquired represents power, Australia can properly be said to have become a post-industrial power. [Hmmm ...]

Oh, certainly, some primary and secondary industry still persists but, with the exception of mining, it's really nothing to speak of. That which remains is just an aberration, the appendix of an era that has fortunately passed us by.

So, apart from mining, Australia is these days mainly about education, finance, insurance, real estate, restaurants and entertainment. Oh, and analytical commentary by a multiplicity of experts, which in itself constitutes a substantial tertiary industry.


You'll observe that the Chinese are much less progressed. Therefore, they still have many years ahead of them in manufacturing before they can hope to become post-industrial like us.

Yes, we're post-industrial all right.

How did we do it? How were America and Australia able to make this near-magical transition from manufacturing wealth, to leaving other countries tossed about in the wake of our service sector?

It wasn't easy. We were astonishingly clever.

Both in Australia and America, taxation scholars noted that in the early days, we didn't have a tax on our incomes. The US introduced income tax as a WWI measure, and Australia only introduced it federally during WWII.

That was because in the early years of both countries we'd set our sights on manufacturing. I mean, you don't levy an income tax if you want to be tops at producing things, do you?


In those days, apart from excises, taxes on land were commonly used to raise revenue. Philadelphia's first tax law was, in fact, passed unanimously on 30 January 1693 as follows:-

"Put to the vote: as many are of the opinion that a public tax upon the land ought to be raised to defray the public charge, say 'yea'." ….
"Carried in the affirmative, none dissenting."

So, after WWs I and II respectively, US and Australian tax scholars and politicians began to think we really ought to keep a lid on manufactures by retaining these new income taxes. Conversely, we should start to get taxes off land if we wished to extend and to foster the real estate industry and banking, and other such tertiary industry.

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About the Author

Bryan Kavanagh is a real estate valuer and associate of the Land Values Research Group.

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