Monday, November 09, 2015

Tax or not?

I see that David Leyonhjelm is again writing in praise of the Singaporean health system, which operates largely by requiring compulsory employee contributions to medical savings accounts.   (I see he was making the same argument back in 2014,  and it is also LDP official policy.)

Now this seems a bit odd to me - when it comes to arguing about whether we are a high or low taxing country, Leyonhjelm is happy to claim "the tax burden figure for Australia is artificially kept down by the exclusion of superannuation guarantee payments", which is extremely close to the Judith Sloan line that "we have a system of compulsory superannuation that must be regarded as a tax".   (Yes, the very special type of "tax" that goes into the taxpayer's own account, is largely untouched by the government, and is available for spending only by the taxpayer or their estate.)

Let's be a bit more consistent here, hey libertarians?   If you are for compulsory savings for medical care, but like to claim compulsory superannuation  should be treated as part of the "tax burden", then you're actually for a brand new tax, using your own peculiar (or opportunistic) categorisations.  On the other hand, if neither are a tax, stop pretending one of them is.

And as for comparing the health costs of the Singaporean system to that in Australia or other countries - goodness gracious me, I would bet there would health economists out there ecstatic at the idea of what they could do to stream line health services if they were doing it for one city state compared to providing coverage for an entire continent.

Update:  OK, so I guess Leyonhjelm might concede such a scheme is the same type of "tax" that compulsory superannuation is, but one which would be compensated for by the government (now with a reduced health spending burden) reducing income taxes.   Because he is, of course, fundamentally against ever increasing total taxes.  (Good luck with working out that transition with any fairness, though.  Let's face it, it ain't going to happen.)

Nonetheless, isn't it peculiar that the party that is all about personal responsibility and letting people act as grown ups actually agrees with Labor, which effectively says you can't rely on people to save for their retirement adequately and therefore compulsory super is required?

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