Maybe we should

In Newsletter Editorial5 MinutesBy Dave McCoidApril 22, 2022

Tax time with the accountant is like going to the dentist. It’s inevitable, necessary, expected. But you never joyously run into an accountant or dentist’s office and savour every moment, hang on every word. It’s just one of those things that must be done. If you’ve squirrelled the necessary beans or brush and flossed, it’ll likely be a confirmation exercise, sometimes with a minor surprise and sometimes a wash-up figure, or filling.

At least with the old drill-and-fill meisters, there’s a feeling of satisfaction beyond the numbness. Tax, on the other hand, is the funding of election campaigns via the public purse (if you’re of a mildly cynical persuasion).

As I left the accountant’s office this year, having seen what I’d paid and the prov numbers for FY23, I thought about many things. I thought about what we’d borrowed as a nation and what we’d spent. I then thought about paying all that back and the fact there are jobs galore begging to be filled, yet the benefit take is also at record levels. “We’re no longer a nation of providers,” I thought. “Many obviously are now happy with the regurgitated trappings from an ever-decreasing hunt.”

Then I thought about the fact that some of my tax had been doled out to the perpetrators of disorder, anarchy and organised crime. At the same time, St John must fundraise to remain solvent, and nurses are worked to the point of collapse. How do you end up in a society where that happens? If you’re not a contributor to a better community, if you pay less than lip service to any law you encounter and are complicit in activities such as the supply of narcotics, which eventually find their way into our schools, I’d prefer you didn’t get my share of the tax take.

By this time, I was in the car. I waited for a truck to roll by before pulling out. It was a grocery truck, and I thought about what the driver had done in the past two years to help the country maintain speed and position compared with the social subset I’d just been contemplating. Yet the truck owner’s reward for contributions made above and beyond is significantly increased costs. And mark my words, what many firms did was above and beyond. They didn’t have to; they are private entities, after all. Many did what they did for the greater good, often at breakeven or worse.

Next was my biggest mistake. I pulled away in the car and drove out on the road. “What a disgrace,” I thought. As I’ve said before, we cover an awful lot of New Zealand in this job, and if you’re feeling hard done by on account of your local road conditions, then don’t. We’re all in the roading cesspit together.

And then came the day’s coup de grâce: the new Kiwi Rail sign on Auckland’s Southern motorway at Drury. A gorgeously clean train – that’s laughable – next to a road with one car and the words, ‘Imagine the roads without trucks’. Kiwirail, an entity with a network that will cripple us if left to fulfil the nation’s freight task.

Given their current masters, and the level of ignorance they possess as to how the freight is moved, I guess putting a train and truck on the billboard with ‘We’re all in this together’, or ‘Together, we’re both stronger’, is just fanciful thinking.  With the government’s disconnect matched by vast swathes of the electorate, I guess it’s an easy vote grab.

More than ever, I think that maybe we should hand it over for a week and see what transpires. Then we’ll all see how fast ideology gets railroaded by perceived entitlement.

All the best

Dave McCoid
Editorial Director