Ahhh Australia, the land of the long white beach, shrimp being thrown on barbies, and every backpacker’s first trip away from home.
It also just so happens to be one of the most restrictive of nanny-states in the developed world.
(perhaps with Singapore beating it by a little).
f you’re an Aussie who wants to make a purchase of $10,000 or more in cash, you’re plain out of luck.
The ban starts in July of 2019 and will mean any payment over $10,000 AUD will need to be made electronically or via a bank cheque – cash is no bueno.
According to the guardian, the major target for the new crackdown is going to be the illegal tobacco trade.
It’s difficult not to revel in the irony that Australia’s illicit tobacco trade is a direct result of the highest cigarette tax in the world, with your average pack of coffin-nails now costing a cool $40 a pack.
It may interest many to discover that Australia, despite loving all the usual drug suspects, has a massive black market for cigarettes, with many being sourced from warehoused legal cigarettes, as tax isn’t paid until the point of sale.
Cash is king, and it seems almost laughable that this mandate will make any difference whatsoever to curb the black market.
Instead, the government should be looking to ease tax on tobacco, bearing in mind smokers pay their way in the healthcare system 17 times over, which stifles the favorite catch cry of the anti-smoking brigade that smokers are a net cost to the healthcare system.
In fact, we should all be saying thanks for their generous contribution.
Instead, the Australian government is doing something a little different, a little smarter and a lot dirtier:
It simply raises taxes on “sin items” to astronomical levels, knowing the inelastic demand for these products will generate a nice steady income stream from people puffing away.
You may see the anti smoking ads, you may see the disturbing images on the packs… but ask yourself this… if they really wanted to stop smoking deaths…why not simply ban them, like all the other items or substances deemed “unlawful”?
Why? Well, who would kill such a huge cash cow? Let them smoke, just make them pay us for the privilege to puff themselves to an early grave.
The Sin Tax
In the wake of the unparallelled 25% tax hike on smokes in april 2010, it became clear that tobacco was going to become a defacto “tax on the poor”.
Think of it like this:
If you earn $20,000 per year, your proportion of tobacco costs are significantly higher than for someone who earns say $100,000. The technical name for this is a regressive tax.
Given that smokers are generally in low- income brackets this imposes a huge burden on people already struggling with the cost of living, with no tangible return for their input.
It’s easy to simply say “ well why don’t they just quit then?”, sure, in a perfect world, that’d be the case, and I’d have a ferrari. But here in reality, demand for tobacco is very much inelastic… in other words, “smokers gonna smoke”.
Clinging to the Sinking Ship of Prohibition
It boggles the mind when one looks at Australia’s long list of draconian, prohibitionist laws, and raises the serious question of why the Australian government seems hell-bent on clinging to the long-dead carcass of prohibition, pushing ever harder to control every aspect of citizens lives.
With cannabis prohibition now in place throughout many US states and all of Canada, who would appear to be our closest “neighbour” in terms of cultural similarity, and hey, the sky hasn’t fallen there, post-legalization. There’s just a few more red eyes around town, and burrito sales are booming. (Not to mention the numerous positive outcomes)
The root cause is a strong cadre of career politicians, backed by an ageing population, who tend to adhere to the Reagan-era, “Just say no” propaganda, and vote accordingly. This leaves many Aussies (myself included) rather jaded, and many chose to become expats in more free pastures.
And therein lies an even more damaging effect of Australia’s draconian laws and regulations:
Quite simply, people are bailing on Australia in record numbers.
Although the experts say they aren’t quite sure what is behind the expatriation, it’s not a stretch to suggest that at least a portion of these expats are seeking freer, more liberal pastures. Places which encourage entrepreneurship rather than stifling it with bureaucracy and tax kickbacks….
…Places which have come to understand that what a person chooses to put into their own body is no one’s business but their own.
These people gravitate towards Agorism naturally, whether consciously or not – humans crave and seek out freedom.
A Slippery Slope
Australia as a whole is on a very slippery slope to an authoritarian police state, where your choice to conform or not is removed entirely.
Think this sounds like scare tactics?
Look to one of our closest neighbors and trade partners, Singapore – the shining example of how a dictatorship can cloak itself in the veil of democracy and attract nothing but the worlds affection.
Chewing gum there is a crime — gatherings of more than 3 people is a crime.
Yes, I hear you say “different culture, different ways”
I say, it can happen anywhere – all governments seek to maximize their control, it’s a natural aspect of politics. It’s the people who need to learn to disobey – use Agorism to subvert the state control structures.
Apathy is The Enemy
Australians are oddly conditioned to be fairly passive, with an apathetic attitude to the state. Some groups such as unions have carved out a place in the political arena, but the everyday aussie is quite apt to simply accept nonsensical laws, such as overly restrictive local government bylaws ruining a once thriving nightlife district
Death by a Thousand cuts
The Australian government has never made a secret of it’s intent to exercise as much control over the populace as possible within the framework of a democratic nation.
Australia is being slowly constricted, in a “death by a thousand cuts” scenario – no major changes are made, just minor, small creeping intrusions, until we reach the point we are now at – total state access to encrypted data, yep, 100% legal.
In conclusion, I see Australia as a sinking ship – the state overreach and excessive taxation is slowly but surely morphing Australia from a desirable place to live, to a place where you need to be making $80,000 ++/year just to “get by”.
Not for me thanks!