Mahinda has made a Sri Lanka that looks like it’s growing, but on the ground it’s not as it seems. People don’t much care what he builds as long as their lives move ahead, but recently everybody has moved back. Petrol, electricity, bread and fish are all up. Essentially everything. The bill for whatever we’ve been building has come due, and it’s shocking. It’s like walking out of Arpico and being like, ‘how the fuck is Rs. 10,000 in this plastic bag’.
Dinidu wrote an interesting Editorial for Ceylon Today. It comes off sounding almost US Republican, but in this context it makes sense. In the US the 1% are angling for tax breaks. In Sri Lanka it’s the 99% that need relief, they just don’t call it tax.
Sri Lankans pay little income tax, but we pay a lot of taxes. Every time you buy a car, you buy the government a jeep. If you buy a can of tin fish, you buy them two. When you make a phone call, the government gets a reload. We pay a ton of tax, and it hits the poor the most.
Hence this was interesting:
Taxes limit the economic freedoms of people, and high taxes limit freedoms even more. Whilst the limit – or the lack of it – is not a gradient but a binary situation, high taxes breed contempt towards the State revenue system. On the other hand when individuals or corporations are paying high taxes, the money that they can re-invest also dry out, leaving no investors…
A country does not grow by massive buildings, massive armies or randomly placed airports and harbours – it grows by ensuring that its people are allowed to live in a country where they have access to impeccable healthcare and world-class education. It grows by ensuring that its people are able to trade, spend and invest as they see fit. It also grows by creating an environment where its people are empowered to speak, think and act the way they want – concepts and ideas that are not fulfilled by having a massive cabinet, but by having a bare-bones, yet effective governance structure.
It’s sounds very WSJ, but it’s kinda true. We pay a shitload of tax, but not income tax. The awareness of taxation thus isn’t there. People just see prices going up, which could or could not be connected to the government. But it is. From petrol to fish to vehicles, there’s an insane amount of tax.
The problem is just the perception. The people that protest aren’t asking for less taxes, they’re asking for more subsidies. Which makes sense on a personal level, but in terms of the common problem, it’s ass backwards. Like pimps say about prostitutes, ‘they can have whatever they want, clothes, cars, but no dough’. We’re acting like Hos. We ask for subsidies, but not actual cash in hand. Instead of saying, ‘stop taking and buying stupid shit’ we’re saying, ‘give us some shit also’. Which is not really sustainable.
I think because the perception is broke. But, like, I’m broke also, as are a lot of people. Perhaps two brokes can make a fix.