This past weekend I was doing some research for a piece I was writing on tax policy, based on recent statements made by Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini that the wealthy should be taxed more heavily than at present.
As much as we all hate paying taxes, not so much because we resent contributing towards the common good but because we often see how certain state departments mismanage the taxes they collect, the concept of those with substantial means making proportionally higher contributions to state coffers has inherent merit. However, one fact that needs to be acknowledged is that our tax tables are already structured according to a progressive scale, which means that while a person earning, say, R50 000 per annum pays no personal income tax, the person earning R5 million per annum contributes almost 40% thereof in direct income tax.
My premise in this particular piece was therefore that taxes aimed at "punishing" the wealthy, especially if they are not carefully thought out, can have unintended consequences. It is in human nature to protect what one has - after all, you and I would not leave our wallets on the dashboard of our cars with the doors unlocked, would we? Worldwide experience has shown that excessively high taxation rates have in fact produced lower state revenue when expressed as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.
Okay - enough of the Tax 101. Where does Julius Malema fit into this? Well, calls for a so-called "lifestyle audit" by the South African Revenue Service aside, Malema has been in the news mainly for his stance on nationalisation, stating publicly that such state expropriation of private assets in the mining and banking sectors should be without compensation if necessary. Needless to say, I expected the ANC Youth League's website to have some sort of statement to this regard, since there is not much different between taxes and nationalisation when you come to think of it - both rely on the coercive power of the state to generate revenue for state coffers.
Let me also state that while the finance person in me does not agree with Malema's proposed methods, and the minister in me has problems with his lavish lifestyle, the Christian in me has to recognise the very real needs of poverty alleviation and access to land that Malema is ostensibly seeking to address. Horrendous as the prospect may sound to some, the Church needs to in fact be partnering with organisations such as the ANC Youth League insofar as common interests (i.e. social upliftment) coincide.
But nothing could have prepared me for the sheer gall and arrogance that is portrayed in this picture on the ANC Youth League's website masthead (and no, I did NOT PhotoShop the picture - this is as I found it. Check it out for yourself on the ANC Youth League's website.)
You've got to hand it to Julius Malema and those in charge of the ANC Youth League's website for showing the rest of us how to do arrogance in style. Malema may as well have one of those horridly offensive bumper stickers that has "F*** the Poor" printed on it stuck on the back of his car. All I can say is, if I was a poor person (or, for that matter, an ANC Youth League member) having seen this picture, I would have some degree of difficulty fighting back a very strong urge to punch Julie Baby squarely, fiercely, and repeatedly in the middle of his fat smirking mug!
A time to count our losses - This year has been a year like no other! We have gone through highs and lows - and then more highs and more lows. The roller-coaster ride has been hectic...
17 hours ago