Three Cheers for Tax and Spend!

Our Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce cries “tax and spend” like it’s a bad thing. But that makes no sense. What other option does a government have?

Tax is virtually the only source of income for our government and is used to pay for the things we all benefit from; the justice system, transport, education, health, social security, science and innovation, trade development, even Mr Joyce’s own salary and that of the departments he is responsible for. Personal taxes provide the largest portion of this income.

Tax is a good thing. Maybe even a great thing. It is what makes New Zealand a place where it is possible to live and do business in comfort and safety. It is our duty to pay taxes just as much as, some would argue, it is our duty to support our national sports teams – which, ironically, are funded by a good dollop of taxpayer largesse.

And it makes sense that those who earn well above what they need for a reasonable standard of living should pay more than those who struggle to survive on a salary that is not much more than loose change for the wealthy.

Would the privileged few who grudge paying taxes advocate, for example, that we should dismantle the justice system? That would mean the accumulation of private property would be virtually impossible. Perhaps they would rather do without our nationwide roading infrastructure? Our health system? Our schools and universities? Why bother having a government at all? Without its income from taxes the government would have no resources to run anything or enforce any laws it makes.

Australia has a top tax rate of 47c in the dollar for income over $180,000. But the first $19,000 is tax free – for everyone.

The common good is commonsense. Make New Zealand a place where not just the few, or even the many, but everybody has a decent life. Tax is one of the most important tools needed to do that. Lets get on with it – tax and spend.