One of the great paradoxes of the 21st century, the information age, and the internet, is that despite having access to seemingly endless piles of data and information, as well as access to properly researched and cogitated articles, the amount of willful ignorance about how the world works and a denial of facts themselves, is not prevalent but rampant. There is an outright rejection of a lot of science, data, and common sense, if it is useful in fulfilling the prejudices of the person who wants to believe in garbage.
People are able to buy into whatever crazy insane garbage that they want to (climate change denial, anti-vaxxing, flat earth theory, etc.) and find all of the necessary support that they need to back up whatever claptrap they choose. Such people are impervious to facts and reason and will often attack the credibility of what you present them with, or launch into various logical fallacies. The great paradox of the information age is that people actively avoid genuine information in favour of weaponised garbage.
The Franking Credit issue which has been brought up by the Labor Party during this election cycle, has been met with opposition from people who are rationally self-interested in maintaining their economic advantage. This has been merrily helped along by the Member for Goldstein¹ and probably still paid employee of the IPA, Tim Wilson, who has successfully gone on a Franking Credits 'Roadshow' at public expense and has not only weaponised garbage but done so for political gain. The problem with throwing weaponised garbage into the lake of political discourse is that anyone who wants to swim around in it, often loses all sense of clarity.
I don't really have a dog in the fight of politics in Australia because in the forty years that I have been alive, both sides of the political game have sold off the stuff that we used to own as taxpayers and members of both sides have gone on to their own financial advantage after poisoning the lake even more. I have been abandoned politically and so I don't care about who happens to lead the country, as long as they do it equitably and fairly.
This means that I tend to want to burn every piece of political claptrap thrown at me, in favour of the facts.
Let me throw some facts into the lake of political discourse:
- There are approximately 11,500,000 taxpayers who have meaningful Individual Tax Returns in Australia.
- Of these 11.5 million people, roughly 460,000 thousand receive any form of cash refunds due to franking credits.
- Of those people, 80% of those refunds as a dollar proportion go to only 91,000 retirees.
- Also, 50% of those refunds as a dollar proportion go to only 44,550 retirees, and they have SMSF Balances of $2.4m
So here's the rub.
As someone who actually works for a living, I find it obscene that someone with a balance of $2.4m who derives their income literally from the work of other people gets franking credits as cash refunds, whereas I get assessed for income tax. How is that remotely equitable?
I am pretty sure that I haven't yet received $2.4m in my entire working life. At 4% return², then the rewards due to that are significantly more than I make in a year, yet if that is ringfenced inside an SMSF, then that can be entirely tax free.
This is quite apart from the fact that people who do have accumulated funds, can use tools such as companies, trusts and SMSFs to avoid paying tax, whereas I as a taxpayer who derives my income from doing real work have no way to avoid this kind of thing at all. The way I see it, putting an end to franking credit refundability is not double taxation, since these people never paid tax in the first place, it is ending zero taxation.
I will get openly admit that I am biased but at least I am biased with reference to the facts and with reference to basic arithmetic which as far as I know hasn't changed since Adam tried to convince God that taking an apple without permission was totally someone else's fault - it's still basically theft. Here though, we've just written a lot of convenient legislation to excuse what amounts to theft from the Commonwealth and the people of Australia because it's all nice and legal.
Why is this acceptable in the supposed land of the "fair go"? Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged during this election campaign a "fair go for those who have a go". If I work, and have a go, they why does someone who doesn't have a go at all, get a cash refund? Why does someone who literally derives their income from the work of other people, get to absolve themselves from paying tax but those of us who do real work can not avoid it? That sounds to me like someone is "having a lend".
I think that this rort needs to be hurled into the sun; then into that black hole that we've just taken a picture of.
I have been told over the past few weeks online that I am biased (which of course is true because it is impossible not to have internal biases; that also goes for the person telling me that I am biased) on a range of issues but when I point them to the source of the information, I will be told that the source is biased as well; including if that source happens to be raw data from a government agency. The most ridiculous example of this happened after budget night when I pointed to a line item relating to taxation revenue for the next financial year and I was told that I didn't understand how to read the number, despite it being there directly in print.
This is why this lake of weaponised garbage needs to be set on fire with the two flames of anger and hope. It is only through the burning of garbage that we can generate enough light to see the facts for what they are; even if people are going to continue to throw weaponised garbage into the lake of political discourse.
¹People who have read '1984' by George Orwell should instantly see the irony in this.
²Which is roughly the average rate of inflation since the beginning of the Rome in 1AU (753BCE)