Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
Rejoice, you’re making money
I recognise most of you don’t want to hear this, but I have a tip on how to lead a happier and more productive life.
Be happy about paying tax.
I’ll just pause as thousands of high-income earners squeak and splutter, and tax accountants take offence at me questioning their entire existence. Just casually alienating half my readers on a Tuesday morning! But hear me out.
Whenever the T-word comes up in our business, we have the same conversation. Pay that tax and rejoice, because it means you’re making money. It’s a great position to be in, what’s not to love?
There’s a lot of tax grumpiness about at the moment. Shopping centre magnate John Gandel, current net worth $4.8 billion, really gets to the core of the issue:
I’ll give you half a sentence from his Wikipedia page:
“Gandel, who inherited much of his wealth from his Polish-immigrant parents,”
And that’s where I stopped reading. I have no issues with Gandel’s wealth, but the idea that we all should chip in to help with his kids’ inheritance is absurd.
Oh so you’ve worked hard have you
When I hear the words “hard-working Australians” or “I’ve worked hard all my life” I reach for my TASER, at least mentally.
It’s the signal you’re about to hear some shameless demands for yet more lifelong subsidies from younger taxpayers. It’s as certain as the way an Australian flag Facebook profile pic guarantees you’re about to hear from a massive racist.
Yet for some reason, media laps up this transparent self-interest and runs it as legit news. People are about to be “slugged”.
Side-note: tax is the only context where people are slugged, like it’s some physical assault rather than a coffee-a-day change in your disposable income. It’s one of those words only used by TV reporters. Words like revellers, stoush and tryst that no normal human has used this century, if ever*.
“Slugged” rather than “their obvious tax scam is finally about to be closed off”.
I’m sorry but most of us work hard all our life. And some of it’s really horrible work too. Pretty sure the guy driving around in the blazing sun all day and dragging your groceries up the front stairs on casual rates is going to work hard all his life. And his only special tax break is not earning enough to pay much tax.
Tax brings you invisible privileges
There’s a general vibe among business owners that they really should pay no tax. Because they alone work hard, they’re the backbone of the economy and so on.
Plus business must have “certainty”. There must be no changes to any government policy forever. To suggest any minor change is sovereign risk and communism.
Imagine a new company CEO coming in in a period of wild-ass economic change and not being able to change a single setting in that business. That would be ridiculous, and it’s a ridiculous ask of government.
Harden the fuck up, business people, and be grateful you live in a stable democratic society with abundant government services and working infrastructure. That’s not under attack from a neighboring dictatorship. Your staff are educated with tax dollars. Your customers drive on tax-funded roads to get to your giant Chadstone shopping mall, should you own one of those.
The tax-hating mentality says: I don’t care about anyone else but me, and I haven’t taken a moment to consider the invisible privileges that tax brings us all.
Cigar-puffing, top-hatted cartoon capitalists
You could argue that governments should spend the money better, like you would, and they should. But two points:
- Do you have a better system than elected governments?
- Pick pretty much any huge corporation and you’ll see just as much wastage, sluggishness, unnecessary layers of management and all the other things you resent in governments.
We pay a ton of tax in our business, and that’s just how it is. (Proper income tax, not like companies who claim they’re a good taxpaying citizen because they collect GST or pay mineral royalties). We’d much rather that than the no-profit alternative. You can’t get resentful about the rules of the system you’ve chosen to work in. Wishing you could change things you can’t is a ticket to permanent unhappiness.
I’m not keen to pay more tax than l have to. I don’t have any of the Cayman Islands-type structures or other sketchy capers the serious tax minisers use.
I operate a family trust, because I can. It’s good, but I’m under no illusions it’s anything other than a lurk others can’t use. I could argue it’s my reward for creating employment for lots of people and so on, and there’s a shred of truth to that.
But if it was taken away, I’d say: that lurk was good while it lasted but fair enough. Why should I get it when a teacher can’t?
Business obviously plays a vital role in society’s wellbeing. I do feel we’d get taken more seriously by the general public if biz people showed some balance and gratitude every so often. Rather than spouting off at every minor change like cigar-puffing, top-hatted cartoon capitalists.
Earning a higher-bracket income, in a country that’s a paradise by any global standards**, is a wonderful experience. You have few money concerns unless you over-inflate your lifestyle expectations. You can afford all sorts of nice things. Being grateful for that makes for a much happier life.
* After I wrote and recorded this story, I saw this headline.
I sent it to a friend who has a national fashion brand and asked if anyone he knew said “rag trader”.
No. Maybe they did in the 80s or early 90s. It’s like something a geezer London tabloid editor might have said while ashing his cigarette into his typewriter.
Time to update your firmware, journos.
** I looked at the international reader/listener data and most of you live in work paradise locations
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