Friday, June 11, 2010

Flint on taxes and federation

David Flint, a legal academic, has relied upon an economist to interpret a tax (the RSPT) to tell him it is an acquisition of property. I cannot agree. The capital gains tax allows me to discount from capital gains any prior capital losses. Does that mean the Commonwealth has acquired all my capital assets? Of course not. The suggestion that Government is constrained from taxing income is nonsense.

Flint should also know that we've almost always had a vertical physical imbalance in the federation. It's just changed direction. At Federation the Commonwealth had responsibilities in defece and communications, but only the excise tax. I don't know if there were actual transfer payments in reverse, but the reality was that the Commonwealth had responsibilities greater than its ability to raise revenue. That of course magnified in WWII which was when the income tax arrangement changed.

The solution to the imbalance and the other idiotic constitutional issues is abolishing the States. They are totally unnecessary.

Finally, referring to the drafters of the Australian constitution as "founding fathers" is a massive insult to the grand theorists like Maddison and Jefferson who undertook that task a century and a bit earlier and forged the first modern republic from a set of disparate states. Those drafters did a lot more than balanced the competing interests of state and national government - that part in fact was so contentious they still managed to have a "war between the states" which also happened to be about whether slavery was a state or federal issue.

Their greatest achievement was designing a system of Government not dependent upon some historical mystique of a hereditry monarchy - something Flint still thinks would be the end of civilisation in the antipodes.

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