The right, or in other words wrong, wing of the so-called ‘Liberal’ Party seems hell-bent on a mission to keep the ‘con’ in ‘conservative’.
I say ‘so-called Liberal’ here to highlight the fact their alleged liberality is confined to economics, and so far at odds with the principles of such true liberals as, for example, the great J.S. Mill, as to be ludicrous.
In fact they espouse and encourage the evil most strongly decried by Mill in his masterwork On Liberty, the ‘tyranny of the majority’.
The badge of a true democracy, as Mill and many other true liberals have since pointed-out, is how much it respects and employs its power and prosperity in support and protection of minorities and otherwise disadvantaged members of its populace.
Yet the treasurer in the late, unlamented Abbott government, Joe Hockey, privileged the interests of the presumably majority of citizens who perceive themselves as ‘lifters’ against those he decried as ‘leaners’.
And Hockey’s even less-loveable successor, Scott Morrison, has been singing precisely the same song with his attempts to harness the antipathy of the ‘taxed’ against what he’s at pains to demonise as ‘taxed-nots’.
Both attempts to appeal to majority sentiment were, of course, cons, considering that a good many of the heaviest leaners and most notoriously costly taxed-nots are major local and global corporations and filthy-rich individuals.
And also in light of the all-too-evident reality that far too many billions of the revenues extracted from the lifters and the taxed are squandered by the government itself on such ridiculously futile projects as the progressive privatisation of tertiary education and offshore detention of refugees.
Two examples of wanton waste that are actually linked, in that many lavishly-funded private ‘colleges’ have been exposed as not just financial and educational scams, but also illegal-immigration rackets.
But never mind. As long as the ‘lifters’ can be given even more of a lift and the already slim pickings for the ‘leaners’ can be rendered even leaner, and the poorer ‘taxed-nots’ can be forced to pay for the avoidances and evasions of the rich ‘taxed-nots’, the Liberal-National federal government is laughing.
Or would be if it was getting away with it. But fortunately for Australian agriculture, the two elements of the Coalition fell-out over the preposterous plan to tax backpackers an outrageous 36 per cent of the paltry wages they can earn in already poorly-paid and seasonal work such as fruit-picking.
Presumably the plot was that these foreign itinerants were fair game because they can’t vote in Australian elections. But backpackers can and do vote with their feet, so to speak, and give Australia a miss in favour of more welcoming economies.
By the time the Nationals woke up to this, and were left with egg on their faces when their constituents started complaining that this summer’s crops would be left to rot for want of pickers, the drop of the projected backpacker tax rate was too late.
And when the government tried to take-up the revenue slack by upping the passenger departure tax, it outraged the tourist industry.
Despite its having given backpackers a break, however, albeit after too many of these workhorses have bolted, and in the process done its bit to try and send the tourism industry broke, the Turnbull government shows no sign of slackening its attacks on ‘leaners’ and the alleged ‘taxed-nots’.
For example, as an age pensioner and thus the hardest of hard-core leaners, every dollar I and my student wife earn in part-time work over some measly permissible amount is docked – or in other words taxed – around 50c, some fortnights leaving me with a nett nothing.
And as we’re both smokers, and thus not only dead-set leaners but slow-learners into the bargain, we pay tax of around 70c for every dollar we spend on cigarettes.
Admittedly I don’t pay tax for the dubious pleasures of alcohol or gambling, because I’m not the slightest interested in either.
I do lean back and enjoy the odd large cappuccino at times, however, so I confidently expect the imposition of a coffee tax soon, in addition to the sugar tax that health authorities and other social police forces have been strenuously advocating for some time.
But why all this fiddling around with taxing allegedly undesirable substances and behaviours when it’s so obviously easy to target people directly by dividing them into categories like, say desirable/undesirable or even affluent/effluent?
Thus there can be tax breaks as mooted for small business for all those who rate as affluent, influential, slim, sexy, property-owning and other similarly admirable traits, and savage taxes as currently for smokers on the effluent: the poor, overweight, plain, property-renting, homeless and so on.
And as for such small-‘l’ liberal concerns like marriage equality, forget them. Just slap a tax on sex in general, with a concession, of course, for reproductive sex, a premium rate on recreational sex, and an absolutely prohibitive premium rate on that bane of oxymoronically and Aussiemoronically conservative Liberals, same-sex sex.