The people at Catallaxy are understandably unimpressed with the reasoning in today’s Clive Hamilton op-ed. Hamilton’s argument (such as it is), using the jailing of tax-evading music promoter Glenn Wheatley as a news hook, is summarised in this passage:
Despite their crimes, some of the tax cheats may feel a sense of grievance — because for some years our public culture and our political leaders have provided justification for tax shirking.
While the Federal Government has said that it will crack down on tax cheats, for years it has actively undermined public confidence in the legitimacy of taxation. Each time the Treasurer or the Prime Minister says he wants to cut the “burden” of taxes to put money back in the pockets of those who have worked hard to earn it, he buttresses the widespread view that governments are out to rip off the poor old taxpayer.
Conservative ideologues go even further, reinforcing the idea that taxation is theft. The Centre for Independent Studies, an influential right-wing think tank favoured by the Government, ceaselessly promotes the view that government is inherently hostile to individual interests and set on exploiting the taxpayer for no good reason.
…If you take this view of the government as a hostile force why would you pay your taxes? If taxation is theft, tax evasion is not only defensible in itself but a blow against an oppressive force.
According to Clive:
These arguments form part of a sustained shift away from thinking of ourselves as citizens with responsibilities to the public interest and towards thinking of ourselves as individuals with responsibilities to no one but ourselves and our families.
Hamilton’s argument is, on a moment’s reflection, very weak Read the rest of this entry »