by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
Those who ask for and take a grant or handout from government I call “corporate dole-bludgers”.
It is disappointing to see business lining up and applying for grants and other hand-outs from government and thus becoming dependent. The same people who may express disdain for individuals who are on the dole, who have become welfare-dependent, are themselves often only too ready to take money from government.
Government has no money of its own; it only has money it takes from others, from its citizens and companies, in the way of taxes. So those who would seek a handout are just getting some of their own, and other people’s, money back. Of course when government takes money from tax-payers and then gives it back in some plan or scheme it takes its own share of it on the way around. This known as “churn” — taking it and giving it back — with its own expensive friction using up plenty in the process. Just as middle class welfare is being seen for what it is — expensive “churn” — so business welfare should be seen as “churn”.
In Australia our company tax rates are quite high, as are our personal income tax rates, not to mention the plethora of other government charges, taxes, duties we pay. Our tax system is an incomprehensible mess and long overdue for reform, but to date no government has had the guts or the energy or the initiative to do anything about it. Low taxes encourages innovation, development, re-investment, growth and prosperity. Business people know better how to spend their money than government bureaucrats do.
And the same goes for the mess of regulations that are imposed on us. These regulations, as everyone in business knows only too well, have little to do with making businesses better and better able to serve their customers, or people happier or wealthier; they are just about form-filling and compliance and bureaucracy empire-building. Canberra is the tax-consumption capital of Australia, eating up billions that would be better spent by those who earn it. The cost of compliance adds to everything that is produced and sold and thus to the price that the Australian public pays for everything it buys and uses.
Entrepreneurs and business people are mostly resourceful, energetic, responsible and well able to look after themselves. To go to governments and ask for a grant is demeaning. It is also a tiresome bureaucratic process. Of course the bureaucrats love it because it gives them power and allows them to build their little empires and control people’s lives.
Business owners, their Boards and Executives should be saying loud and clear to government “Get out of our hair, get off our backs, leave us alone to do our job”. We should be telling them to reform and simplify the tax system, to reduce taxes, and to radically reform and reduce the regulatory burdens. Instead of being mendicants asking for help business people should be fiercely and proudly independent, using their skills and initiative to innovate, to export, be sensibly frugal and caring with energy and resources. They don’t need a grant to do this. Applying for a hand-out, accepting a hand-out is demeaning; it says that you can’t make it on your own.
Business in Australia, including many large companies who should know better and who don’t need to be on the dole, accept government money. How pathetic! Why don’t they say to government “No thanks, we don’t need it or want it. Leave us alone, get off our backs and out of our pockets. Laissez nous faire!”
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