Many economists along with other social scientists and social philosophers, enjoy playing God, by which I mean laying out in detail their own private versions of the “good society” without being required to suggest ways and means of implementing their precepts or even defend these precepts with democratic political processes.
— James Buchanan
SYDNEY — That quote I borrowed from one of the slides of Prof. Sinclair Davidson of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He was among the many speakers in the recently concluded 7th ALS Friedman Conference and 17th World Taxpayers Association (WTA) Conference on May 23 to 26 in this city.
That big event, with 500+ participants and speakers from many countries across the world, was jointly sponsored by the Australian Libertarian Society (ALS), Australian Taxpayers Alliance (ATA), Tax & Super Australia, and WTA. The Americans for Tax Reforms (ATR) was among the major sponsors.
Sinclair is a quantitative, facts-based researcher so I attended his two panel lectures, one on “Money and Macro” where he showed the above quote, and one on “Plain Packaging & Tobacco Harm Reduction.” He observed that with the plain packaging policy in force in Australia since December 2012, “premium pricing models were undermined, smokers trade down on branding, effectively smoking cheaper, a failure to meet its stated objectives.”
Many participants were leaders of national taxpayers groups, like the Canadian Taxpayers Association headed by departing WTA Chairman Troy Lanigan, UK’s Taxpayers Alliance headed by incoming WTA Chairman John O’Connell, HK’s Momentum 107, India Taxpayers, Korea Taxpayers Association, Taxpayers Association from Germany, Sweden, Finland, and many more.
I got curious about the tax rates for personal and corporate income, and sales tax — the major pocket-boring policies of many governments — so I searched the numbers, which are in the table.
European countries are notorious for having very high rates in all three taxes. Australia has high Personal income tax (PIT) and Corporate income tax (CIT) but modest Value Added tax (VAT).
In Asia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan’s high PIT and CIT may be understandable because of their high level of development and industrialization. But India, Indonesia, and Philippines have high PIT and CIT yet they remain less developed.
Several countries and jurisdictions do not impose these taxes:
• Zero both PIT and CIT: Bahamas, Bahrain, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, United Arab Emirates
• Zero PIT: Brunei, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
• Zero CIT:, Isle of Man, Maldives, Vanuatu
• Zero VAT or Gross sales tax (GST): HK, Oman, USA
ALS founder and President John Humphreys, and ATA Executive Director Tim Andrews, are very explicit about their organizations’ goals — less government regulations, taxes, size, and waste.
I met Joh for the first time at a Heartland Institute’s climate conference in Chicago in 2010, Tim in a WTA conference in Bangkok in 2017. Both are young, cool, dynamic, and frank. Aside from leading their dynamic organizations, they successfully put up that fantastic conference and really fun-filled networking cocktails, gala dinner, and harbor cruise for three nights.
The torch of the free market, less government movement is alive and fiery in Australia and other parts of the world. There is more hope for a world of more individual freedom, more personal responsibility, and less state nannyism.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the president of Minimal Government Thinkers.