Lionel Shriver on taxation

Great comment last night on Q & A

LIONEL SHRIVER: Briefly, I just think that when you suddenly bring in any huge tax of an entire industry of that size, you send a little shimmer through the commerce of your entire country, because you highlight the potential capriciousness of government and the rather frightening capacity of any government at essentially take all your money.

JOHN RALSTON SAUL: But that’s how we actually got public education. That’s how we got healthcare. We taxed people who said they would never be taxed. That’s how we did it. We took money from people who had the money and put it into the public purse then built universities and schools and public swimming pools and so on. I mean, that’s what democracy is about is the – I’m not speaking in favour of this tax. I’m saying, “That’s how we built the public good which produced this audience and us.”

LIONEL SHRIVER: I’m not saying, “No, we shouldn’t have taxes.”

JOHN RALSTON SAUL: Oh.

LIONEL SHRIVER: But you might feel a little differently if suddenly while we were sitting here foreign writers who came into Australia were stripped of their assets by 90 per cent and they just past that law.

JOHN RALSTON SAUL: Yeah, might.

PETER CAREY: Well, what’s wrong with that?

LIONEL SHRIVER: You might not come back to the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

JOHN RALSTON SAUL: I enjoy the Sydney Writers’ Festival unpaid.

TONY JONES: If it was a super profit tax, you’d have to be a really big best seller, so you probably wouldn’t mind. This is Q&A, the program that gives you the chance to ask the questions you want answered. …

Notice the editorialising by Jones at the end. He’s very generous with other peoples money.
(HT: Bolt)

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59 Responses to Lionel Shriver on taxation

  1. jtfsoon says:

    jesus, John Ralston Saul is supposed to be the philosopher and the novelist Shriver makes more logically coherent points than him.

  2. JC says:

    TONY JONES: If it was a super profit tax, you’d have to be a really big best seller, so you probably wouldn’t mind. This is Q&A, the program that gives you the chance to ask the questions you want answered. …

    They should get rid of him, as his partisanship really detracts from the show. Fatty is exhibit A for what happens living an adult life essentially off welfare. Even his wife works at the ABC.

  3. I think her quote should be “a little shiver”, not “shimmer”. But you probably already realised that…

  4. “If it was a super profit tax, you’d have to be a really big best seller, so you probably wouldn’t mind. This is Q&A, the program that gives you the chance to ask the questions you want answered.”

    It’s bollocks and illustrates that this “resource rent tax” is a crock.

    How is writing a novel (and the associated life experience, skills and investment in literary education req’d) or dedicating capital with a lot of downside risk to develop a mine a “windfall”?

    Your 3rd cousin’s uncle dying and inheriting Balmoral Castle is a windfall – if you think death is “costless”.

  5. JC says:

    SRL:

    The only reason that Fatty Jones says those things is that he’s really looking after his own interests.

    He knows that there’s a tightening-up of the budget if the libs win, he and his wife would be unlikely to be able to negotiate for a higher packages, as the ABC would be the first place the Libs would look at to cut some fat.

    Seeing that Jones doesn’t rely on the market providing him with his welfare cheque he would of course support a super profits tax seeing the it doesn’t matter to him if the economy is doing well or in recession. All he cares about is the government getting in enough money so that his welfare gets funded.

    In point of fact a recession would be the best possible outcome from Fatty as that would mean he’d be able to acquire things cheaply.

    Market forces etc don’t directly impact on people like fatty and in fact a good economy would actually be detrimental to him.

  6. “Market forces etc don’t directly impact on people like fatty and in fact a good economy would actually be detrimental to him.”

    Relativiely. In an absolute sense, he’d be better off – free riding away.

  7. daddy dave says:

    How is writing a novel (and the associated life experience, skills and investment in literary education req’d) or dedicating capital with a lot of downside risk to develop a mine a “windfall”?
    .
    You’re right, it’s not.
    Writing a book has a lot of similarities in fact. In both cases, there’s a lot of up-front work that may never pay off. For mining, there’s exploration; for a book, there’s writing the thing.
    It’s like declaring any professional author the recipient of ‘super profits’, ignoring the fact that there was a huge risk upfront that does not pay off in most cases.

  8. JC says:

    Yes that’s true…

    But we’re not talking about a heavy duty economic think here. It’s Tony Jones after all.

    All he’s concerned about is that ABC is well funded, as he sees that helping him personally.

    Not really understanding the ramifications of a tax and the likely consequences he sees a pile of money coming out of the grab and that some of it will end up at the ABC where he can share in the spoils though a larger welfare while acting altruistic. It’s a sort of win win for him.

  9. A better funded but depoliticised ABC migyht be better. But I’m against GBEs on empirical and theoretical grounds. Ethically it’s just a lifestyle choice issue which we shouldn’t be forced to fund.

  10. JC says:

    You can depoliticize it without privatizing it. Frankly having a right wing version of the very hard left Tony Jones would be just as bad in my book.

  11. dover_beach says:

    Ralston Saul was embarrassing; he was completely unprepared for Q&A and hadn’t even bothered skimming over the papers in order to give moderately considered responses to any of the questions. And to call him a political philosopher is akin to calling Homer a prose stylist.

    Shriver made an excellent point which simply passed over the heads of Carey and Ralston Saul; and we also saw the naked abuse of state power that they think is legitimate when purportedly undertaken in the public interest.

  12. “public interest”

    More like their biases being funded.

  13. JC says:

    Dover:

    Saul and Carey seemed like they were egging each other on to say the most stupid things.

    At least Saul to his discredit wasn’t as verbose and as boring as Bart Simpson lip Carey. Carey was just embarrassing. In fact I felt embarrassed to be Australian hearing him babble that incoherent swill.

  14. Peter Patton says:

    I’m sorry, but I simply do not get this delusion – so many STILL have – that a novelist has ANYTHING of use to say about public policy issues more than the butcher, the baker, or the candle stick maker.

    I know that those days have largely passed – I mean who gives a flying fuck what Simone de Beavior thought about tax policy, or federal government takeover of hospital management – but why is this ditz Peter Carey on the tele? I know they put Germaine Greer on because it is illegal to be cruel to animals, so we get our vicarious vivisectionist jollies via broadcasting Germaine’s jeremiads, but why Carey?

    Keep inside your garret (or penthouse) tapping away at your type-writer creating sublime characters, and exquisite sentences. Leave management of the polity to the rest of us.

  15. Peter Patton says:

    Oh, and as for that poncey Ralston Saul airhead. At least Carey can write!

  16. Sinclair & other are being a bit too kind to Shriver in not referring to her strange bit about how Sarah Palin says things she agrees with, but this is just so embarrassing because she knows Palin is an idiot!

  17. Here’s more about Shriver, from an interview, which explains the gloves, but also indicates she is quite the oddball:

    ‘It’s so bad that I have virtually no tax deductions because I don’t spend any money. I don’t go out to eat because I like my own cooking – nobody makes it hot enough for my taste and if I cook at home I can cram it full of chillies. I don’t keep the heat on during the day, even in winter [which perhaps explains why she suffers from Reynaud’s disease – poor circulation – and has to wear gloves all the time]. Other people seem to regard these little habits as peculiar. I don’t regard them as peculiar. But I suppose I am bloody-minded about cycling everywhere. I bicycled to those parties last night. I wore these clothes. I’m also very frugal about laundry because I don’t like to do it, so I wear the same clothes all week.’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/apr/22/fiction.features1

  18. She’s a slob. So what!

    Go away and read Grazia or some other crap you’re really interested in.

  19. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Steve – I don’t think Palin’s an idiot at all.

  20. dover_beach says:

    Sinclair & other are being a bit too kind to Shriver in not referring to her strange bit about how Sarah Palin says things she agrees with, but this is just so embarrassing because she knows Palin is an idiot!

    To be fair, to say that you agree with some of the things that Palin says in front of an ABC audience seems to me courageous even if you’ve qualified it by saying that she nevertheless is an idiot.

    And I didn’t mind the gloves.

  21. JC says:

    They were really getting stuck into Palin last night like it was a row of Xmases.

    I truly don’t get what left-wingers find so fearful about her although I appreciate a lot of beta would find her scary like any woman. She isn’t my cup of tea in terms of being a political leader however that said at least her economics and positions are more aligned with my own views.

    In any event she can’t possibly be more offensive than Nancy Pilosi or Barbara Boxer as these two knuckle heads take the cake.

    Furthermore she’s far smarter than the current VP Joe Biden.

    Here’s the thing. Palin will Not be the nominee for the GOP. Some else will who will win the election and cut the spending. That’s where the election will be fought in the US for 2012.

  22. Someone want to buy this kid a TV?

  23. Peter Patton says:

    The HUGE mistake dumb American leftists (oops ‘liberals’) and faux-feminists made about how to react to Palin, was not learning from the Pauline episode here.

  24. asf says:

    So she likes chilli and bike riding and she doesn’t like to waste money by running the heat all day or washing her clothes all the time. So what? Lefties are always banging on about bike riding and using less power for ‘the good of the planet’; someone who does these things out of good, old-fashioned frugality rather than quasi-religious piousness is an odd-ball?

  25. daddy dave says:

    Furthermore she’s far smarter than the current VP Joe Biden.
    .
    Yep. I think she’s damaged goods in terms of a presidential run, but I could be proven wrong about that. She’s no dummy and since the 2008 election she has been a flawless, at times devastating, political operator.

  26. asf: Who cares what the motivation? A person with enough money to buy detergent, and who rides their bicycle regularly, but only changes clothes once a week, is an oddball. Doesn’t mean what she says or writes is worthless, but she is odd.

  27. She may also be exaggerating, of course.

  28. jtfsoon says:

    jesus steve maybe she doesn’t sweat much if at all.

    who cares?

  29. C.L. says:

    I’m sorry, but I simply do not get this delusion – so many STILL have – that a novelist has ANYTHING of use to say about public policy issues more than the butcher, the baker, or the candle stick maker.

    Hallelujah. We might as well ask Bob Ellis what his technical opinion is on the quantum computer.

    Steve, I’ve yet to hear Palin claim that the American version of Nick Minchin affects the weather.

  30. It was simple human interest, Jason, but I was responding to criticism of bringing it up at all. I also think (but can’t be sure) that Sinclair missed the point of my comment.

    I should warn you all: I kind of like it when I get this reflexive annoyance factor from things I say here, so the more people call me an idiot, the more I am tempted to comment. (It works that way for Homer too, I guess.)

  31. There you go – while I was typing that, CL misunderstand me too.

    It was criticism of Shriver, not Palin.

  32. C.L. says:

    Great column by Gerard Henderson on Peter Carey and our tax-eating literary elites.

    Excerpt:

    No one quite matches Deveny’s contempt for the less educated and lower socio-economic groups. However, in 2004 La Trobe University academic Judith Brett warned readers of the edited collection The Howard Years that, in contemporary Australia, “the opinions of the ignorant or uninvolved are given equal weight to those of the passionate and the knowledgeable”. How shocking is that?

    Writing in the Herald Sun last February, columnist Jill Singer opined: “There is nothing wrong with being an accountant, farmer or fisherman – but these are insufficient credentials to, say, run a nation’s finances.” According to this logic, one-time train driver Ben Chifley was not qualified to be treasurer in John Curtin’s successful wartime government but Jim Cairns was just the man to hold the position in Gough Whitlam’s erratic government in the early 1970s. Yet Chifley was competent at his job while the former academic Cairns was a disaster.

    RTWT.

  33. asf says:

    Steve – JD Salinger was odd-ball. Bike riding and changing your clothes once a week barely registers. In any case, I know many people with wealth that would considerably exceed Shriver’s who put her frugality to shame. After all, wealth comes from savings not expenditure.

  34. TerjeP (say Taya) says:

    There was a question to Fraser about whether Rudd was worse than Whitlam. Tony Jones got an answer from Fraser but it seems to me that it was the only question that for which he didn’t seek a view from everybody on the panel. He seems much more partisan than Kerry Obrien and that’s saying something.

    I wouldn’t have minded the attacks on Sarah Palin if they included some specifics. As it was they just all nodded and said silly American women. It reminded me of how docile and personal some of the attacks on Pauline Hanson were.

  35. Ev630 says:

    Regards Steve’s claims about Shriver being odd – what bullshit.

    I wear the same jeans and shirt all week if the wife and kids go to stay with the outlaws. I also run the AC on full because I like it freezing. Something I can’t do when she’s around. So what?

    If you think a handful of idiosyncrasies are odd then you must live in outer Vanillastan.

  36. JC says:

    Ev

    Let us know if you’re ever downwind.

  37. Ev630 says:

    “I wouldn’t have minded the attacks on Sarah Palin if they included some specifics. As it was they just all nodded and said silly American women. It reminded me of how docile and personal some of the attacks on Pauline Hanson were.”

    The Palin issue reminds me of Christopher Hitchens’ comments on a US TV talkshow where he observed that he was tired of the jokes about Bush being stupid as they were “now the jokes that even stupid people can make” and that they were used in some sort of Pavlovian circle jerk. It got a miffed whine from the host and the audience, and when the audience booed Hitchens he just said that that was evidence of their bovine intellect, that they were making “zoo noises.” And when they groaned and yelled out he flipped them the bird. Literally.

    Classic Hitchens contrarianism. The same issue now exists with Palin. A certain type of leftie wears a contempt for Palin and will make assertions about her being some sort of unschooled Alaskan bogan because it signals they belong to the Leftie tribe and also gets instant affirmation. “Hello, I’m with you. I’m smart.” “Yes, you are. Right on. Here, have a dog biscuit. Good dog.”

    It takes no effort, no one will challenge their assertions or expect them to establish their credentials in the sense of being more intelligent or successful THAN Palin, and so on.

    As Hitchens has observed (and he was a critic of Bush and dislikes Palin) it’s some seriously lazy intellectual bullshit and doesn’t advance debate or thought.

  38. Sinclair Davidson says:

    More MILFs for President I say. 🙂

  39. Ev630 says:

    JC. Hey, I still shower and change my jocks every day. But tell me you’ve never worn the same jeans two days in a row at the weekend. If you deny it you’re a goddamn liar.

    😉

  40. Ev630 says:

    Sinkers. You can say that again.

  41. Ev630 says:

    Here’s the entire Hitchens segment:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTrzZLM0Tm4

    Enjoy.

  42. Rob W says:

    I think that that we can all appreciate that there is perhaps some merit to the super profits tax, and that perhaps there are other areas that have a more compelling application.

    One area that comes to mind is broadcasting, where industry participants are able to undoubtably earn super normal profits thanks to the government’s gift of a licence (which of course belongs to all Australians). This is reflected in higher wages for those involved in the industry, which must be addressed through a media super wages tax. The super wages tax of 90% could be applied on all wages above the dole (in effect the riskless wage rate – equivalent to the bond rate in the mining tax) in the name of fairness. Of course many in this industry are so convinced of their moral superiority that they should pay double. Of course there is always the danger that it could drive media off-shore, hard to see how this would pose a problem. Like the resource super profit tax it could be futile leading to a net reduction in taxation but at least it would be fun.

  43. daddy dave says:

    This is reflected in higher wages for those involved in the industry, which must be addressed through a media super wages tax.
    .
    What a spendid idea, Rob W. You should work for Treasury.

  44. Rob W says:

    “You should work for Treasury.”

    daddy dave, I hope that you are not implying that I make shit up to push a political line thats been directed to me.

  45. Ev 25 May 10 at 7:30 pm – Best. Commment. Ever.

  46. Ev630 says:

    Ta very mooch.

  47. Ev630 says:

    Janet Albrechtsen meets Shriver, who makes the same observation as Hitchens…

    “Instead, there was smugness [Albrechtsen is describing the Sydney Writer’s Festival]. Ironically, the very same smugness explored a few days earlier by Shriver during an intelligent discussion with broadcaster and journalist Caroline Baum. When talking about humour, Shriver said she doesn’t care for the clubby nature of most political satire where it is assumed you are all on the same side. “It’s what annoys me about liberals in general. Conservatives, as a type, do not assume when they meet someone that you’re a conservative . . . Liberals are presumptuous and especially if you seem like a half-way decent human being. The assumption is, of course, you are wildly left-wing.” Everyone is regarded as being in the same club. It’s “very self-congratulatory”, Shriver said.”

  48. Adrien says:

    Saul is such a phoney. Voltaire’s Bastards set me back $29.00 I want a refund.
    .
    Shriver and he are both right. You get public goods thru taxation. But do the taxes need to be enormous? And if you tax people enormously what happens?
    .
    We Need To Talk About Kevin was a great book. And an unintentional truism about Australian politics.

  49. Adrien says:

    Interesting comments from Shriver on Obamacare:

    what Obama ended up backing is a legislation that nails down private health insurance as the way people get medical care covered in the United States and he took off the table, from the very beginning, any prospect of having a national healthcare system.

    Which is funny coming from someone described as libertarian.

  50. It’s true though. The US needs real reform, which means disconnecting health insurance and payroll.

    “Shriver and he are both right. You get public goods thru taxation. But do the taxes need to be enormous? And if you tax people enormously what happens?”

    Therein lies the rub. I’d be apolitical (maybe *conservative*) if economically the Government followed the Washington consensus and respected common law rights and civil liberties.

    A pure public goods argument for national defence isn’t carte blanche for prolifigate waste like the BER, or EMTRs exceeding 100%.

  51. daddy dave says:

    not much of a libertarian based on that interview. Greed is bad:

    You’ve got a medical establishment that is making a lot of money off of people. So, it’s not in their interests, for example with someone like Glenice, to do what they do in the UK and say, you know what, we can’t cure mesothelioma. We could throw a lot of chemicals at it, but it would just make you miserable and you’d die anyway.

    So, what we’re really going to do is just make you comfortable and send you off and we hope that you have as nice a life as possible for what little time remains. You’ll never get that in the United States.

    .
    This person totally does not understand the core problems with either the British or American health systems.

  52. Peter Patton says:

    Adrien

    Health care is one area, where the market is always inferior to a government single-payer system. Obama’s is recipe for fiscal disaster.

  53. Peter Patton says:

    Oh and agree totally on Raulston Saul. A complete airhead.

  54. daddy dave says:

    Health care is one area, where the market is always inferior to a government single-payer system.
    .
    If that’s the case, why would anyone in a mixed system, for example Australia, ever get private health insurance?

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  56. Adrien says:

    Obama’s is recipe for fiscal disaster.

    I think he’s planning a cook book. 🙂

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