Economic myopia

In challenging Archbishop Freier’s grasp of economics, Colin McLean (Letters, 10/4) evidences his own brand of fiscal myopia. Dr Freier is not the only one who needs to be thankful, as he undoubtedly is, for the tax exemptions the Church receives. Millions of the nation’s poor and marginalised, if they had the luxury of time to study economics, would have even more cause to rejoice. Many of them are alive, clothed and fed because the Church cares in the name of Christ, and budgets accordingly. Mr McLean might even join in the thanksgiving chorus, recognising how little of his own taxes are spent on state welfare.

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Let’s get lexical

The lexical proficiencies of consultants Mercer are grossly under-utilised in merely serving the behavioural capabilities of educators at a single tertiary institution. National politics and news program ratings would lift immeasurably if such skills were harnessed by our Federal pollies now!  “Working families” is becoming decidedly tired. How about “vocationally productive nuclei” (VPNs)? We voters would be on the edge of our seats.

But the greatest need just now is surely in economic discourse. Mr Abbott and his loyal cadre would pay handsomely for a highly nuanced phrase to replace “great big new tax”. Something like “over-proportioned fiscal exaction” (OFE) would keep us all going for two electoral cycles at least. Both leaders are positively desperate for a cache of “electorally emollient synonyms” (EESs) for the toxic ’t’ word.  It can only be a matter of time before “levy” exhausts it’s soothing capacities. “Tariff”, “duty” and maybe even “excise” could last a few press conferences each, at a pinch.  Voter appeasement will then require a lexical skill only professionals can provide. My best attempt is “specific life-product utilisation grab” (SLUG). But what would I know?

Mercer, your country needs you!

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Separating fact from fiction

Most of those who invoke the doctrine of the “separation of church and state” in political discourse these days evidence little grasp of it’s actual meaning. It’s become a kind of popular Dawkinsian rallying cry for the “new” atheism. Peter Pelzer (Letters, 20/11) is but the latest of many, with his call for greater financial “separation”. The common idea seems to be that religious faith has no rightful place in public life or policy.

In fact the historic principle of church-state separation has little directly to do either with any person’s belief system or with the modern phenomenon of tax exemptions or deductibility. Rather, it’s about whether a particular religious institution is an organ of the state. Unlike Britain, Australia is not and has never been a country where the state is constitutionally enmeshed with any religious body, to the great relief of Christians and secularists alike.

The Australian taxation system makes special provision for religious bodies, not because of anything they believe, but in recognition of their contribution to the well-being of society generally and the marginalised in particular. The emphasis is on their non-profit charitable status. Anyone objecting to that might try envisioning a health or welfare system without them.


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