I was having a conversation with the Grumpy Old Man last night about politics. Not really current Australian politics, or world politics but about the problems I have with the political parties and how none seem to quite meet my needs.
Not my financial or spiritual needs, but my understanding of societal needs.
I thought I'd try and explain what I'm on about - I'm not certain I'll be successful at doing this, but here goes...
I'm no fan of capitalism, and 'sustaining the economy' as Howard used to bang on about makes me think The Economy is a beast we need to feed. A hungry and heartless beast which doesn't understand the emotional needs of humans.
I'll never be a Liberal (if you're not Australian, I need to explain that here Liberals are the same as American Republicans, our Labor Party is like the Democrats, our democrats are a party that used to be, but are no more, and then we have The Greens, who started out as environmentalists but are now more left that our Labor party).
I believe in society providing basic needs for the people in that society. I believe in universal healthcare - including dental - that is provided through tax. I also believe in free education provided through tax.
But while I have voted left in the past (and will continue to vote left until something better comes along), I'm not entirely sympathetic to left politics either.
Let me explain why.
While right politics is about 'freedom of choice' and 'user pays' (assuming you can afford to pay, and if you can't, well that's your problem), the left of politics is about control. Sure, they'll set up health care and they'll set up education for everyone, but, they also create a variety of hoops for people to jump through because they have this need to parent society.
Both sides of politics act as if our tax dollars are their money and we have to prove we need it - it being the money we pay in taxes, our money they hold in trust for us.
Parents can't simply choose not to participate in formal education for their children - to provide their own best understanding of their child's education needs. Parents get hassled for not choosing to vaccinate, and now if you don't take your child for certain check ups, you forfeit support as well.
It's 'Life, our way.' According to the Labor party, at least.
Last night, I was thinking what I would suggest as an alternative, because, you know, just whinging about it is a cop out. If you think the status quo sucks, you really need to step up and offer an alternative rather than just sit back and complain, right?
So, here is how I'd like to see society run...
There would be a tax system, and it would be tiered, so that the people who earn more, pay more tax. The reasoning behind is that a flat tax system would only increase the gulf between the haves and the have nots. I do not believe for a second that having to pay more tax as you earn more would deter people from earning more. It is in human nature to 'want more'. Besides, higher paid jobs are more prestigious, no matter how much tax you have to pay.
If a person earning 35k a year paid 15% tax, they'd take home 29 750 per annum. If a person earning 140K paid 40% tax, they'd take home 84 000 per annum. If a person earning 250K paid 60% tax, they'd take home 100 000 per annum. So the more you earned, the more you'd still be taking home.
The taxes would primarily go towards infrastructure, health and education.
The quality of health and education would be world standard. Let's face it, the only reason anyone has private health care is because they know the public health care system is substandard. There are not enough facilities, doctors and nurses to meet the demands in society, so the waiting lists for some very basic services are outrageously long. Health care would include all aspects of health, from birth to death, disabilities - physical, mental, and learning, dental, alternative, everything.
Education would include all varieties. There would be government funded schools for Christians, and Muslim and various education philosophies such as Steiner and Montessori and so on. If a group of educators or parents wanted to form a particular kind of school with particular philosophies, they would receive funds for the Government to do so, because they would be meeting education needs within communities.
Participation would be at the discretion of individuals. The health care system would be available to all but participation would not be compulsory, vaccinations would not be compulsory, for example. So, okay, right now many of you are going to say, 'Why should I pay for a system where people put the health of my children at risk by not vaccinating - the Government is only trying to ensure my children are healthy to save money in the future because epidemics are expensive. NOT TRUE! If Governments push vaccinations, it is not for prevention of disease. If they were interested in prevention of disease, they'd ban the sale of cigarettes, but you see, the tax on cigarettes is far too lucrative to sacrifice for the health of the population.
So, infrastructure, health and education would be accessible to all at a world leading standard, the need for 'private health' and 'private education' would disappear because everyone would have ready access to the best.
Everyone would continue to pay tax through the GST - sorry to disappoint, but I don't think the GST was the worst concept ever. Because of the GST, I can be confident that I am also contributing to society through the payment of a tax, even though I receive a benefit from society in form of a pension. It shuts up those people who want to claim I only take and do not give.
Those who cannot earn money through employment would have basic needs met still. Those who could work would help provide for those who couldn't, but everyone would be given the opportunity to contribute through GST and through work programmes for which they'd be paid a liveable wage.
Participation in infrastructure, health and education would be at the discretion of the individual - and I think you'd find participation would be greater because services would be better.
That's my ideal.
Where's the party that will offer me this to vote for?