I recently read an article on the Starts at 60 website in which an expert suggested the tax breaks for older Australians should be changed in favour of younger Australians who will bear the brunt of the global coronavirus pandemic. While I believe some changes to taxation law can be made, I think this expert needs to consider some of his reasoning and his suggestions in the light of our history (which I feel he seems to be unaware of).
There have been challenges across every generation. My relatives lived through the Great Depression and learned to spend little on anything extra. They cooked simple home-made meals and both ate and lived sparsely. They passed on many of these techniques, and some of the fear, to their offspring.
The next generations also faced recessions and job losses, but had the ability to use ‘hire purchase’ to buy what they needed in white-goods and the like, as well as some things they didn’t need but wanted (such as televisions etc.). Then came conscription — people losing their ability to work, families coping without the breadwinners or without the sons they believed would help support them in their old age.
We now have another major illness (it’s not the first and wont be the last) affecting our ability to work and keep the economy going. People are no longer using ‘hire purchase’ to pay for their goods before getting them. They are getting the things they want immediately thanks to After Pay schemes.
Our grandparents would warn them against such extravagances as hugely expensive phones so they can keep in social contact but also play games and watch movies. They would ask “Are these things necessary for you to live? Would a cheaper phone keep you in contact with those you need to speak with?” And “What about the expensive computer games. Would Monopoly and a pack of cards see you through til next pay day?” etc …
This is just one example of how life has changed across the generations and how our use of money has changed with it. Yes there is unemployment — but not as great as in many years before us.
I note that the expert in the article would see those who have worked like Trojans across the years, those who have scrimped, saved and paid taxes all their working lives and who are now in a position where they are living off their own pensions (which they have added to as such things did not exist until well into their working lives — unlike the modern generation), penalised for their hard work. They are not relying on the government to pay them to survive, and this should be commended — not abused by further taxes to their lifestyles.
These people are not necessarily wealthy. Land Tax may see some of these people thrown out of their homes — and many people who have paid high taxes on recent purchases will be hit by both schemes.
This expert is not just suggesting a way of providing income to those who are not able to find work, but he is also rewarding those who don’t live frugally and expect to be ‘looked after’. Why would anyone want to work hard to provide for themselves and their children when the work of others can do it for them?
Coronavirus will see an extended period of time where jobs will be scarce and people won’t be able to earn, but we need to encourage people to do anything they can to buckle down, live frugally and act with pride towards rebuilding their country, not to sit back and feel that others can look after them.
These are my thoughts — perhaps not expressed as well as they could be. I believe in helping others, but I also believe that help comes in many ways, not just monetary. In helping people to feel pride in themselves by doing whatever they can (even if it can only be a little) to be productive — a parent, a child, whatever they may be — it can only be beneficial for society as a whole.
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